Phenotypic variants of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, scanning electron microscope image. (Photo by: NIH/NAID/IMAGE.FR/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

There is a “concerning” strain of gonorrhea in Massachusetts. The Department of Public Health released a statement yesterday saying “This is the first time that resistance or reduced response to five classes of antibiotics has been identified in gonorrhea in the United States.” Cases of gonorrhea in Massachusetts are on the rise and have increased over 300% in the past two years. Here is everything you need to know about this new strain of gonorrhea and how to prevent it.

  • What is different about this new strain in Massachusetts?

    According to the Boston Globe: “The new bug’s genetic profile indicates that gonorrhea, which has already developed resistance to nearly all the antibiotics used to treat it, is starting to gain the ability to overpower the one medication doctors still use.”

    Massachusetts detects gonorrhea strain showing resistance to nearly all antibiotics used to treat it - The Boston Globe

    Although standard treatment still works, the new bug, never before seen in the US, shows signs of developing resistance to the recommended drugs.

  • What is gonorrhea?

    Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

    STD Facts - Gonorrhea

    Gonorrhea Fact Sheet from CDC. What is gonorrhea? How common is gonorrhea? How do people get gonorrhea? And more...

  • How is gonorrhea spread?

    • 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.
  • What happens if left untreated?

    • If untreated, an infection can lead to more serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.
  • How can I reduce my risk of getting gonorrhea?

    According to the CDC “The only way to completely avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.” If you are going to have sex, use condoms “the right way” EVERY TIME. 

    STD Facts - Gonorrhea

    Gonorrhea Fact Sheet from CDC. What is gonorrhea? How common is gonorrhea? How do people get gonorrhea? And more...

  • If you get gonorrhea, how is it treated?

    Standard treatment of gonorrhea is typically a one-time injection of ceftriaxone.

    New gonorrhea strain resistant to multiple antibiotics detected in Massachusetts, officials say

    A gonorrhea strain that hadn't been seen in the U.S., and is resistant to a range of antibiotics, was detected in two patients in Massachusetts.

  • Gonorrhea is surging in Massachusetts

    “In Massachusetts, laboratory-confirmed cases of gonorrhea have increased 312% since a low point of 1,976 cases in 2009 to 8,133 in 2021. Nationally, confirmed cases have risen by 131% between 2009 and 2021, with 696,764 cases reported in the US in 2021 according to preliminary data released by the CDC.” 

    Department of Public Health announces first cases of concerning gonorrhea strain

    Boston - The Department of Public Health (DPH) today 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.

  • What the CDC is urging people to do?

    “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. Clinicians are advised to review the clinical alert and assist with our expanded surveillance efforts.”

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