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gonorrhoea

Venereal disease caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium, causing purulent inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the genito- urinary tract. Contact with an infected person gives a 50 per cent chance of contracting the disease in men, and more than 75 per cent in women. After 2 to 10 days most infected men experience a burning sensation when urinating and a milky discharge from the penis; the discharge becomes thicker after a few days. Sometimes the lymph ducts in the groin swell. Symptoms may disappear without treatment, but the man is still a source of infection for his sexual partner(s), and is in danger of inflammation of the epididymis and the prostate, with sterility as a possible complication. Up to 60 per cent of infected women notice nothing of the infection, but they are carriers, and can infect others. If symptoms occur they are a painful burning sensation when urinating and sometimes pain from infected glands in the labia majora. Greenish-yellow pus can be discharged from the urethra, and from the vagina if the cervix is inflamed. A serious complication of unnoticed and untreated gonorrhoea is inflammation of the Fallopian tubes (salpingitis), resulting in sterility. Bacteria in the fluid discharged from the urethra or vagina is identified by staining techniques and cultures. The rectum, anus and throat should also be examined for bacteria, because their membranes are also subject to infection from gonorrhoea. Sexual partners should also be examined and treated if necessary. Treatment by penicillin is quite simple, but there are types of gonococci that can break down penicillin, in which case other antibiotics have to be used.

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