BOSTON (WWLP) – A new strain of gonorrhea has been identified in Massachusetts that resisted treatment, the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced Thursday.

Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), can result in pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other health problems if left untreated. Two residents in Massachusetts have been detected to have a new strain that is resisting antibiotics.

Gonorrhea has been increasing in Massachusetts and nationally, adding to concerns about the potential spread of this strain which is more difficult to treat.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health

One person had a reduced response to multiple antibiotics and another case (no direct connection between the two people) with genetic markers that indicate a similar drug response. Contact tracing is being conducted to determine if other individuals have acquired this infection.

They were both cured with ceftriaxone, the antibiotic to treat gonorrhea currently recommended. Healthcare providers were issued an alert to raise awareness of the new strain.

This is the first time that resistance or reduced response to five classes of antibiotics has been identified in gonorrhea in the United States, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern which DPH, the CDC, and other health departments have been vigilant about detecting in the US,” said Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “We urge all sexually active people to be regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections and to consider reducing the number of their sexual partners and increasing their use of condoms when having sex. Clinicians are advised to review the clinical alert and assist with our expanded surveillance efforts.”

There has been an increase of gonorrhea cases in Massachusetts by 312% from the lowest amount of cases of 1,976 cases in 2009 to 8,133 in 2021. Nationally, cases rose by 131% between 2009 and 2021, with 696,764 cases reported in the U.S. in 2021 according to preliminary data released by the CDC.