Recent media reports about an outbreak of super gonorrhea in Kenya and across the globe have caused major shocks and panic. The online space is awash with reports about this drug resistance Sexually Transmitted Disease (STI) disease with people wondering what this super gonorrhea is all about.
According to Dr. Teodora Wi, World Health Organization (WHO) Medical Officer specializing in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when we say super gonorrhea we mean gonorrhea ‘superbug’.
These are extensively drug-resistant gonorrhea with high-level resistance to the current recommended treatment for gonorrhea. This makes it very difficult to treat and potentially very dangerous. As it is resistant to most antibiotics, it takes longer for the symptoms to disappear and thus making it difficult to cure.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.6 million new gonorrhea infections occur each year and that half of those infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic.
How does it spread?
Just like ordinary gonorrhea, this super gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection. It is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
What are the Symptoms?
According to health experts at Tua Saúde an online health magazine, the following are the main symptoms of gonorrhea.
- Pain or burning with urination
- White-yellow discharge, similar to pus
- Increased urinary frequency with possible incontinence
- Anal swelling, in cases where the bacteria was transmitted through anal sex
- Sore throat, in cases where the bacteria was transmitted through oral sex
- Increased risk for pelvic inflammatory disease if left untreated
What are the Risk factors?
The risk factors for super gonorrhea are similar to those for regular gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections. These risk factors include:
- Having unprotected sex with an infected person
- Having multiple sexual partners or engaging in high-risk sexual behavior
- Being a man who has sex with men
- Having a previous history of sexually transmitted infections
- Living in an area where there are high rates of gonorrhea or antibiotic resistance
What happens if you don’t receive treatment?
Untreated gonorrhea can have serious consequences. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in women, untreated gonorrhea can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Some of the complications that come with PID include:
- Formation of scar tissue that blocks fallopian tubes;
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Long-term pelvic/abdominal pain
In men, gonorrhea can cause a painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles, which can lead to infertility. Untreated gonorrhea can also spread to your blood or joints and this condition can be life-threatening.
How do I safeguard myself from super gonorrhea?
Practicing safe sex minimizes the risk of contracting gonorrhea. People are encouraged to use a condom, avoid unprotected sexual contact outside their relationship and get tested regularly if they have multiple partners.0