New strain of gonorrhea discovered in Massachusetts resisted antibiotics

BOSTON (WWLP) – A new strain of gonorrhea has been identified in Massachusetts that has resisted treatment, the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday.

Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other health problems if left untreated. Two Massachusetts residents have been detected as carriers of a new antibiotic-resistant strain.

Gonorrhea has increased in Massachusetts and nationally, adding to concerns about the potential spread of this harder-to-treat strain.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

One person had a reduced response to multiple antibiotics and another case (no direct link between the two people) had genetic markers that indicate a similar drug response. Contact tracing is ongoing to determine if other people have contracted this infection.

They were both healed with ceftriaxone, the currently recommended antibiotic for treating gonorrhea. Healthcare providers received an alert to make them aware of the new strain.

This is the first time that resistance or reduced response to five classes of antibiotics has been identified in gonorrhea in the United States, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern that DPH, CDC and other health departments have been working to detect in the United States,” said Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “We urge all sexually active people to be tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections and to consider reducing the number of their sexual partners and increasing their use of condoms during sex. Clinicians are encouraged to review the Clinical Alert and participate in our expanded surveillance efforts.

There has been a 312% increase in gonorrhea cases in Massachusetts, from the lowest case count of 1,976 cases in 2009 to 8,133 in 2021. Nationally, cases have increased by 131% between 2009 and 2021, with 696,764 cases reported in the United States in 2021. according to preliminary data released by the CDC.

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