The US is investigating the first two cases of a super-potent strain of gonorrhea resistant to ANY antibiotic – experts warn poses ‘serious public health concerns’.
- Both patients are in Massachusetts, state health officials said
- Contact tracing is underway to trace any other cases of the disease
- Super gonorrhea is resistant to a variety of available antibiotics
America is investigating its first two cases of a “worrying” super gonorrhea strain that has shown signs of resistance to every available antibiotic.
Both patients – who were not named – were in Massachusetts and likely contracted the disease in the state. There is no connection between them and contact tracing is ongoing to see if others are also infected.
dr Margaret Cooke, the chief of state’s health department, said the discovery was a “serious public health concern”. The ministry added that this is a warning that gonorrhea is becoming resistant to a “limited arsenal of antibiotics”.
It’s the first time super gonorrhea has been spotted in the US, having also been spotted in the UK and Austria.
Both patients with the disease – who have not been identified – were in Massachusetts. Contact tracing is underway to uncover other cases (file photo)
Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the US, with approximately 700,000 new cases detected each year and counting.
The disease often causes no symptoms, but warning signs include a painful or burning sensation when urinating or an uncomfortable discharge from the vagina.
Left untreated, this can lead to serious complications, including infertility and potentially life-threatening pelvic inflammatory disease in women. In pregnant women, it can also cause permanent blindness in newborns.
Cases are treated with an injection of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, the last antibiotic available to treat the disease. Patients may also be offered oral antibiotics such as azithromycin and doxycycline.
But some countries – including the US – are now discovering strains of gonorrhea resistant to ceftriaxone, raising alarms from health officials.
Massachusetts health officials said one patient had shown a “decreased response” to multiple antibiotics.
The second case had the penA60 genetic mutation previously associated with ceftriaxone resistance in the UK.
Both were successfully treated with ceftriaxone.
A state spokesman declined to confirm to CBS News any further details of the cases, including their age, gender, where they lived in the state or when they were infected.
No direct contact has been confirmed between the two cases, although health chiefs said recent travel by their most recent sexual partners could not be ruled out.
dr Cooke said: “The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern [health authorities] were vigilant in detection.
“We urge all sexually active people to get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections and to consider reducing the number of their sexual partners and increasing the use of condoms during sex.”
dr Laura Bachmann, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, said the case was a “reminder” of the ongoing threat posed by the disease.
“Timely identification and treatment, as well as a rapid public health response, are essential to keep patients safe and reduce the risk of community transmission,” she said.
“We all must remain vigilant as we combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.”
A warning was also issued to healthcare providers across the state.
WHAT IS GONORRHEA?
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, or gonococcus.
This bacterium is usually found in penile discharge or vaginal fluid.
It is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, or through sharing vibrators or sex toys used without a condom.
The bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, throat, or eyes.
It can also be passed from pregnant women to their unborn babies.
Because the bacteria cannot survive long outside the body, gonorrhea is not transmitted by kissing, hugging, sharing towels, sitting on the toilet, or swimming.
About one in ten men and half of women have no symptoms.
However, these may include:
- Thick green or yellow discharge from genitals
- pain when urinating
- Bleeding between periods in women
Treatment usually consists of a single antibiotic injection and pill.
Gonorrhea can be prevented by using condoms during sex and not sharing sex toys.
Source: NHS selection