US is investigating first two cases of super strength gonorrhea strain

US is investigating first two cases of super strength gonorrhea strain that is resistant to EVERY antibiotic

  • 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’ new super-gonorrhea that is resistant to a large swathe of antibiotics.

Both patients with the disease — who have not been identified — were in Massachusetts. There is no connection between them, and contact tracing is now underway to detect other cases.

Dr Margaret Cooke, the head of the state’s department of health, said the discovery was a ‘serious public health concern’ which they have been ‘vigilant about detecting’.

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.

The antibiotic ceftriaxone is used to treat gonorrhea, which is given as an injection, with the disease clearing a few days later.

But some countries are now detecting strains of the bacteria that are resistant to this antibiotic, leaving medics reliant on ‘last resort’ medications to treat the infection.

Health authorities in Massachusetts said on this occasion both cases were treated after injections with ceftriaxone.

But they said that the strain showed resistance to six of the seven antibiotics that have been used to treat the disease.

The cases also had the gene mutation dubbed penA60, which has previously been linked to ceftriaxone resistance in the UK.

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

No direct contact has been confirmed between the two cases. One had not recently traveled outside the US, suggesting the strain is spreading within the country.

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.’ 


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