Gonorrhea

Cause: Bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Illness and treatment: About half of women and some men have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, urethral discharge and painful urination are typical of genital infections. Complications include pelvic inflammatory disease in women with a risk of infertility, or epididymitis in men. There can be conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, proctitis, or, rarely, sepsis. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Sources: Gonorrhea is sexually transmitted or may be acquired at birth.

Additional risks: Rates are highest among sexually active adolescents and young adults.

Prevention: Use safe sexual practices to reduce transmission. Screen sexually active women at risk to detect infection in asymptomatic patients. If gonorrhea is found, also screen or treat for Chlamydia.

Recent Washington trends: Recently over 2,000 cases were reported each year.

2010: 2,865 cases were reported (42.6 cases/100,000 population).

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To assess trends in epidemic patterns, understand the impact of the burden of disease on populations, the health care infrastructure, and to better target population-level disease prevention efforts
  • To assure the adequate treatment of infected individuals in order to reduce the duration of infectiousness and prevent sequelae of infection. (e.g., PID, ectopic pregnancy, infertility)
  • To identify cases in a timely fashion in order to interrupt the chain of infection through patient-level interventions such as management of sexual contacts and behavioral risk reduction counseling.

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 work days

  • Hospitals: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 work days

  • Laboratories: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 2 work days

  • Local health jurisdictions: notify the Washington State Department of Health

  • STD Services Section within 7 days of case investigation completion; summary information required within 21 days for all reported cases

Last update
December 2011