Two cases of a worrisome new strain of gonorrhea that’s proven resistant to antibiotics have been discovered, according to Massachusetts health officials.
While both patients improved after being treated with ceftriaxone, the most common antibiotic used to treat the condition, the infections showed resistance to nearly all standard gonorrhea drugs.
The cases, they said, are the first confirmed instances in the US.
“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern which [the Department of Public Health], the CDC and other health departments have been vigilant about detecting,” said Margret Cooke, head of the Massachusetts DPH, in a statement.
There was no evidence of a connection between the patients, officials said.
According to the CDC, gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in the country behind chlamydia.
Investigators are now working with the agency to identify other domestic cases of the strain and see whether it has been spread to other patients.
Gonorrhea can cause pain, discharge, bleeding and other symptoms that can ultimately lead to infertility.
“Gonorrhea has been increasing in Massachusetts and nationally, adding to concerns about the potential spread of this strain which is more difficult to treat,” officials said.
The CDC and other health authorities are sounding the alarm on the threat posed by gonorrhea, and are urging the public to seek regular testing for STDs.
“This case is a reminder that antimicrobial-resistant gonorrhea remains an urgent public health threat nationally and internationally; all providers in all clinical settings need to remain vigilant,” Dr. Laura Hinkle Bachmann, chief medical officer of the CDC Division of STD Prevention.