Gonorrhoea is an inflammatory disease affecting the mucous membrane. The infecting agent is the bacterial gonococcus Neisseria gonorrhoea. Men and women may be infected in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes and rectum; in women, including the the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and vagina. Untreated infections may lead to permanent health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and a life-threatening blood infection. The disease is directly contagious usually by sexual intercourse from another person already suffering in this manner.
Although theoretically gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that should respond quickly to antibiotics, the reality is that the bacteria has developed resistance to most of the antibiotics used to treat the infection. At one time, treatment with penicillin was very successful but penicillin-resistant gonococci evolved to become almost completely insensitive to the drug. This may soon pose a major public health threat in the U.S. and is already called an emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in several countries, including Norway, Sweden, Japan, France and the United Kingdom. As yet it has proved practically impossible to produce a vaccine against gonorrhoea because gonococci provoke only a very limited immunological response in humans.
Gonorrhoea rates increased in 2016; the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) reported 470,000 cases in 2016, with increasing diagnosis of oral and rectal infection among gay or bisexual men.