Department of Public Health announces first cases of concerning gonorrhea strain

  23 January 2023

The Department of Public Health (DPH) announced it has detected a novel strain of gonorrhea in a Massachusetts resident that showed reduced response to multiple antibiotics and another case with genetic markers that indicate a similar drug response. This is the first time that resistance or reduced response to five classes of antibiotics has been identified in gonorrhea in the United States.

Both cases in Massachusetts were successfully cured with ceftriaxone, the antibiotic currently recommended to treat gonorrhea. To date, no direct connection between the two individuals has been identified.

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection. It may present without symptoms, and if left untreated, can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other health problems.

This strain of gonorrhea has been previously seen in Asia-Pacific countries and in the United Kingdom, but not in the US. A genetic marker common to these two Massachusetts residents was also previously seen in a case in Nevada, though that strain retained sensitivity to at least one class of antibiotics. Overall, these cases are an important reminder that strains of gonorrhea in the US are becoming less responsive to a limited arsenal of antibiotics.

Further reading: Mass.Gov
Author(s): Mass.Gov
Effective Surveillance  
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