US is investigating first two cases of super strength gonorrhea strain that is resistant to EVERY antibiotic – as experts warn it poses ‘serious public health concern’

  • Both patients are in Massachusetts, health authorities in the state said
  • Contact tracing is underway to track down any other cases of the disease
  • Super-gonorrhea is resistant to a large swathe of available antibiotics 

America is investigating its first two cases of a ‘concerning’ strain of super-gonorrhea that showed signs of resistance to every antibiotic available.

Both patients — who have not been named — were in Massachusetts, and likely caught the disease in the state. There is no connection between them, with contact tracing now underway to determine whether others are also infected.

Dr Margaret Cooke, the head of the state’s department of health, said the discovery was a ‘serious public health concern’. The Department added that this was a warning that gonorrhea was becoming resistant to a ‘limited arsenal of antibiotics’.

It is the first time super-gonorrhea has been detected in the US, after it was also spotted in the UK and in Austria

Both patients with the disease — who have not been identified — were in Massachusetts. Contact tracing is underway to detect other cases (file photo)

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the US, with about 700,000 new cases detected every year as numbers trend upward.

The disease often triggers no symptoms, but warning signs include a painful or burning sensation when urinating or an unpleasant vaginal discharge.

If left untreated, it 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 available to treat the disease. Patients may also be offered antibiotics to take orally like azithromycin and doxycycline.

But some countries — including the US — are now detecting gonorrhea strains that are resistant to ceftriaxone, sparking alarm among health officials.

Health authorities in Massachusetts said one patient showed a ‘reduced response’ to multiple antibiotics.

The second case had the genetic mutation penA60, which has been previously linked to ceftriaxone resistance in the UK.

They were both successfully treated with ceftriaxone.

A spokesperson for the state refused to confirm any additional details of the cases to CBS News, including their ages, sexes, where they lived inthe state or when they became infected. 

No direct contact has been confirmed between the two cases, although health chiefs said recent travel in their recent sexual partners could not be ruled out.

Dr Cooke said: ‘The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern which [health authorities] have been vigilant about detecting.

‘We urge all sexually active people to be regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections and to consider reducing the number of their sexual partners and increasing their use of condoms when having sex.’

Dr Laura Bachmann, chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) division for STD prevention, said the case was a ‘reminder’ of the ongoing threat from the disease.

‘Timely identification and treatment, as well as a rapid public health response, are essential to keeping patients safe and reducing the risk of community transmission,’ she said.

‘We must all remain alert for potential gonococcal treatment failures as we combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.’

An alert has also been issued to healthcare providers across the state. 

WHAT IS GONORRHOEA? 

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus.

This bacteria is usually found in discharge from the penis or vaginal fluid.

It is passed through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, as well as sharing vibrators or sex toys that have been used without a condom.

The bacteria can infect the cervix, urethra, rectum, throat or eyes.

It can also spread from pregnant women to their unborn babies.

As the bacteria cannot survive outside the body for long, gonorrhea is not spread by kissing, hugging, sharing towels, toilet seats or swimming.

Around one in 10 men and half of women experience no symptoms. 

However, these can include:

  • Thick green or yellow discharge from the genitals
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bleeding between periods in women

Treatment is usually a single antibiotic injection and tablet. 

Gonorrhoea can be prevented by using condoms during sex and not sharing sex toys.

Source: NHS Choices 

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