Health authorities in Massachusetts announced Thursday they have identified two cases of a new strain of gonorrhea that appears to have developed resistance to a broad swath of antibiotic treatments.

Both patients got better after getting injections of ceftriaxone, the main drug currently recommended to treat cases of the sexually transmitted infection. But state health officials warn the strain that infected them shows signs of at least some resistance to almost every drug to treat the bacteria, the first of its kind confirmed in the U.S. to date.

Investigators are now working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test other samples collected from gonorrhea cases in the state. Massachusetts is also conducting contact tracing to find out if the drug-resistant strain has spread to others.


“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern which DPH, the CDC, and other health departments have been vigilant about detecting,” Margret Cooke, head of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said Thursday in a statement.

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection reported to health authorities in the U.S., behind chlamydia, according to the CDC.

Many who are infected by the bacteria often have little to no symptoms. However, some can develop bleeding, discharge, and more serious complications that can lead to infertility and pain.

The initial case was identified in a patient who went to a primary care clinic with symptoms of urethritis, a kind of irritation that can make it difficult to urinate. Samples examined by the state’s health laboratory flagged a “concerning” pattern later verified by follow-up testing by the CDC.

A spokesperson for the state declined to clarify additional details about the two cases, beyond those identified in the department’s announcement and alert to providers.

No direct connection has been identified between the two cases. One had no recent travel history, suggesting the strain could be spreading within the state.”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,” Cooke said. (SOURCE)