Massachusetts health officials said they have detected a new strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Health officials said the cases, which were detected in two Massachusetts residents, were cured with ceftriaxone, which is the currently recommended antibiotic to treat gonorrhea.They said the new strain appeared to be resistant or showed a reduced response to five classes of antibiotics.
Such a strain had not previously been seen in the United States, officials said.
What is gonorrhea?
- Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- The disease can be spread by anyone who is sexually active, and presents symptoms such as a burning sensation while peeing, and bleeding in the infected areas, the CDC said.
- If untreated, an infection can lead to more serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
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Novel strain never before seen in US
- This strain of gonorrhea had only been seen in Asia-Pacific countries and in the United Kingdom, health officials said. A similar case had been previously identified in Nevada, though that case did not show resistance to at least one class of antibiotics.
- “The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern which DPH, the CDC, and other health departments have been vigilant about detecting in the US,” Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke said in a news release.
CDC has monitored emerging antibiotic resistance for years
The emergence of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea has been on the CDC’s radar for years
- In 2010, the agency updated its treatment guidance to recommend the use of ceftriaxone to treat the disease.
- In 2021, approximately 696,000 people became infected with the disease, according to preliminary CDC data. Infections rose by 45% from 2016 to 2020
- Cooke urged the public to test regularly for sexually transmitted infections and to consider increasing the use of condoms during sex.