Gonorrhoea – Causative organism and mode of transmission

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This infection is spread from one person to another through unprotected sexual activities. So, people with numerous sexual partners or those who neglect the use of condoms are at a greater risk of contracting this disease.

Let’s digest some facts about about sexually transmitted infections (WHO):
  • About 88 million cases of gonorrhoea occur each year.
  • More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired daily, worldwide.
  • There’s an estimated 357 million new infections yearly, with 1 of 4 STIs: gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia.
  • Majority of sexually transmitted infections have no symptoms or show only mild symptoms that may not be recognized as STI.
  • A major threat in reducing the impact of STIs worldwide is drug resistance, especially in the case of gonorrhoea.


Causative Organism

This venereal disease is caused by a bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is also known as gonococcus. Apart from gonorrhoea, it also causes several other forms of gonococcal diseases such as septic arthritis, disseminated gonococcemia, and gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum. It is a gram-negative diplococci bacteria, and was first isolated by Albert Neisser in 1879.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae can cause infections of the genitals, eyes, and throat. In most cases, asymptomatic infections are common in both male and females. When this bacterium is left untreated, it spreads to the rest of the body (as in disseminated gonorrhoea infection), particularly the joints (septic arthritis). In women, untreated infection may cause pelvic inflammatory disease and a possible infertility due to scarring.

As a bacteria, it belongs to the phylum Proteobacteria, class Betaproteobacteria, Neisseriales, family Neisseriaceae, and genus Neisseria.

Mode of transmission

As mentioned earlier, gonorrhoea is transmitted from one person to another through sexual activities, including oral sex. If you have sex with a person infected with gonorrhoea, then you stand the risk of contracting this disease. Women are said to have a higher risk of contracting the infection than men. If an uninfected woman haves sex with an infected man, her chance of getting the disease is estimated as 60-80%. On the other hand, if an uninfected man haves sex with an infected woman, his chance of contracting the infection is estimated at 20%. Of course this risk estimates are based on a single act of vaginal intercourse.

Other means of getting this disease is from a pregnant woman who is infected to her unborn child. It happens during the process of childbirth. If it affects the infant’s eyes, it is referred to as ophthalmia neonatorum.


  • Half of women with gonorrhoea do not show symptoms. Even if they do, they tend to mild or similar to other infections such as yeast or bacterial infection. This makes the symptoms difficult to identify.
  • Others show vaginal discharge, usually watery, creamy, or slightly green.
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Sore throats
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse


  • In men, some may not develop noticeable symptoms for weeks. In fact, some may never develop symptoms.
  • Usually, the first symptom in men is a burning sensation during urination.
  • Greater frequency of urination
  • Swelling or redness at the tip of the penis
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Pain or swelling in the testicles



There are many modern antibiotics that can treat gonorrhoea. At present, there are no any over the counter medications or home remedies that can effectively treat gonorrhoea. If you have a feeling that you have contracted this disease, then the best thing you should do is to visit a healthcare professional.

In most cases, gonorrhea is treated with a single dose of Azithromycin by mouth, or through injection of Ceftriaxone. As of 2015-2016, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO), only recommends the use of either Ceftriaxone or Azithromycin in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

Due to Neisseria gonorrhoeae’s resistance, many antibiotics that were once effective in treating this disease are no longer recommended. Penicillin, tetracycline, and fluoroquinones are examples of such antibiotics.

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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!