gonorrhoeae (the gonococcus)
- Humans are the only natural host.
- Transmitted sexually by contact
with an infected individual; may be transmitted from mother to baby during
- CDC estimates that more than 700,000
persons in the U.S. get new gonorrheal infections each year. Only about half
of these infections are reported to CDC. In 2002, 351,852 cases of gonorrhea
were reported in thr U.S..
- Neisseria gonorrhoeae typically
infects the mucous membranes causing infections such as urethritis (def),
pelvic inflammatory disease (def),
and pharyngitis (def).
- In males there is typically a
2-3 day incubation period after which a purulent (def)
discharge from the urethra and dysuria (def)
develops. Around 95% of infected males are symptomatic. Rare complications
include prostatitis (def),
and periurethral abcesses (def).
- The gonococcus primarily infects
the cervix in women. Symptoms include vaginal discharge, dysuria (def),
and abdominal pain. Complications from an ascending infection include absesses
of the ovarian tubes and pelvic inflammatory disease (def).
Around 10%-20% of infected women develop these complications.
- In 1%-3% of infected women and
a lower percentage of infected men the bacterium disseminates via the blood
causing bacteremia (def)
and arthritis (def).
- Congenital gonorrhea typically
appears as ophthalmia neonatorum (def)
and occurs as a result of the eyes of newborns becoming infected as the baby
passes through the birth canal. Antibiotic drops are put in the eyes of newborns
to prevent congenital gonorrhea and congenital Chlamydia infection.
by Larry I Lutwick, MD, Director,
Division of Infectious Diseases, Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Health Care
System, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, State University of New
York at Downstate; Renuka Heddurshetti, MD, Fellow in Infectious Diseases, Department
of Internal Medicine, State University of New York at Brooklyn; and Sanda Cebular,
MD, Fellow, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, State University
of New York at Brooklyn.