Outbreak of gonorrhoea-linked infection that triggers meningitis in US state, docs warn – The Sun

AN outbreak of a gonorrhoea-linked infection that could trigger meningitis has been detected in a US state, docs have warned.

Health officials in Michigan say they are investigating multiple cases of disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) – a complication of untreated gonorrhoea.

Eleven cases have been reported to the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Of those, 10 are confirmed while one is considered a possible cause, health officials have said.

The outbreak of the serious infection appears to have first emerged in late August when the first four cases were reported, according to M Live.

Dr William Nettleton, medical director of Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department, said: “Gonorrhoea infection that spreads to joints and internal organs is a rare but serious infection that may require hospitalisation, IV antibiotics and surgery.

"We urge community members to protect themselves from this preventable infection through safe sex practices, including using condoms.”

Untreated complication

DGI can happen when gonorrhoea –  the second most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK – is not treated.

The bacteria then spreads through the bloodstream and to other parts of the body.

It is sometimes called the "arthritis-dermatitis syndrome", because when the bacteria spread to other parts of the body it can cause joint pain and skin lesions.

The condition can also cause damage to the inner lining of the heart muscle – and even life-threatening gonococcal meningitis.

Symptoms typically include fever or chills, joint pain or swelling, pain in the tendons of the wrists of heels or a puss-filled skin rash.

On the rise

Experts have previously warned that gonorrhoea is on the rise – with Britain to blame for more than half of all cases across Europe.

The number of people with the sexually transmitted infection went up by 17 per cent across Europe in 2017 – with 240 new cases diagnosed every day.

It follows a decline in cases in the previous year, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

There were 49,156 cases of gonorrhoea confirmed in the UK in 2017 – making up 55 per cent of the European total of 89,239.

It's also five times as many as second-placed France with 9,177 recorded diagnoses of gonorrhoea, despite having the same population as the UK.

The clap

Gonorrhoea – also known as "the clap" –  is a bacterial infection which spreads through all forms of unprotected sex, as well as by sharing unwashed or unprotected sex toys.

According to the NHS, the bacteria which causes gonorrhoea can sometimes infect your throat and eyes, as well as the more common locations of the cervix, urethra and rectum.

Pregnant women can pass the infection on to their baby, which can cause blindness if it isn't treated in time.

The signs of a gonorrhoea infection can vary between men and women.

In women, symptoms can often include unusually watery or off-colour vaginal discharge, as well as burning pain when urinating.

Less common symptoms in women include pain in the lower gut and bleeding between periods or after sex.

In men, symptoms can include an unusual discharge from the penis, burning after urinating, swelling in the foreskin and, in rare cases, pain in the testicles.

Normally, it takes a couple of weeks from infection for the symptoms to emerge – although it can take a few months longer in some cases.

However, around one tenth of men and half of women have the disease without any symptoms, which can mean it goes longer without being treated.

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