Knowing Gonorrhea Research

Gonorrhea Research - The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) continues to support a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program of research on N. gonorrhea (gonococci). Researchers are trying to understand how gonococci infect cells while evading human immune defenses (immune response). Studies are ongoing to determine

  • How this bacterium attaches to host cells
  • How it gets inside them
  • Gonococcal surface structures and how they can change
  • Human response to infection by gonococci

All of these efforts, together, will eventually lead to the development of an effective vaccine against gonorrhea. They also have led to and will lead to further, improvements in diagnosis and treatment of gonorrhea.

Another important area of gonorrhea research concerns antibiotic resistance. This is particularly important because strains of N. gonorrhea that are resistant to recommended antibiotic therapies have spread from Southeast Asia to Hawaii and are now starting to appear on the West Coast. These events add urgency to NIAID efforts to develop effective microbicides (antimicrobial preparations that can be applied inside the vagina) to prevent infections.

Recently, scientists have determined the sequence of the N. gonorrhea genome. They are using this information to find promising new leads to help us better understand how the organism causes disease and becomes resistant to antibiotics.

  • Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
  • Painful or burning sensations when urinating
  • Vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody

More advanced symptoms, which may indicate the development of PID, include cramps and pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting, or fever.

Men have symptoms more often than women, including

  • Pus from the penis and pain
  • Burning sensations during urination that may be severe

Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, anal itching, and occasional painful bowel movements with fresh blood on the feces.

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