Massachusetts: Novel gonorrhea strain detected, Shows reduced response to multiple antibiotics


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Massachusetts health officials reported Thursday that they had discovered a new strain of gonorrhea in a Massachusetts resident that showed a low response to multiple antibiotics and another condition with genetic markers indicating a similar response to medication. This is the first time that resistance or decreased response to five classes of antibiotics has been identified in gonorrhea in the United States.


Both cases in Massachusetts were successfully treated with ceftriaxone, the antibiotic currently recommended for gonorrhea. So far, no direct connection between the two people has been identified.

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

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“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern, as the Department of Public Health, CDC and other health departments have been vigilant about its detection in the United States,” said Public Health Commissioner Margaret Cooke. “We urge all sexually active people to have regular testing for STDs and to consider reducing the number of their sexual partners and increasing their use of condoms when having sex. Physicians are advised to review clinical alert and assist with expanded surveillance efforts.”

Gonorrhea is on the rise in Massachusetts and nationally, adding to concerns about the potential spread of this difficult-to-treat strain. In Massachusetts, laboratory-confirmed cases of gonorrhea have increased 312% since declining from 1,976 cases in 2009 to 8,133 cases in 2021. Nationwide, confirmed cases increased 131% between 2009 and 2021, as reported About 696,764 cases in the United States in 2021. According to Raw data Released by the Centers for Disease Control.

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