Hattiesburg doctor addresses growing concerns of gonorrhea

Hattiesburg doctor addresses growing concerns of gonorrhea

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The World Health Organization recently announced that it is running out of ways to treat gonorrhea.

The United Nations health agency said some antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease have emerged all over the world.

In response, the agency has released new guidelines recommending another class of antibiotics to treat the sexually-transmitted disease.

According to the World Health Organization, 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea every year.

But has this dire situation reached Mississippi?

"Every patient that we've treated and brought back for retesting has tested negative," Dr. Lara Otaigbe of Hattiesburg's Southern Medical Care said.

Dr. Otaigbe said she has not noticed a problem with drug-resistant gonorrhea at her practice, and the state health department echoed the same.

"We are unaware of any cases of this in Mississippi, but we would use the standard CDC recommended treatment if cases were reported," Mississippi State Department of Health Epidemiologist, Dr. Paul Byers said.

But Dr. Otaigbe said there is something about this STI that concerns her.

"Mississippi is number two in the nation," Otaigbe said.

Since 2014, the CDC has ranked the Magnolia State with the second most cases, and Dr. Otaigbe said one of the causes is simply carelessness and the other.

"People are practicing oral sex and they are not using protection," Otaigbe said.

She explained oral sex can cause pharyngeal gonorrhea, which is the STI that can occur in your throat and is harder to get rid of.

"I think it's just because of how the bacteria attaches to the mucus in the throat. I mean, our bodies are generally not designed to harbor that kind of bacteria in that area," Otaigbe said.

According to Dr. Otaigbe, gonorrhea can be devastating for women. In many cases, women show no symptoms, so they do not know they need treatment.

This could lead to infertility, and doctors are taking more precautions for younger women.

"We routinely screen all young females under the age of 25 for chlamydia and gonorrhea, because they won't self-reporter, they may not have symptoms," Otaigbe said.

Doctor Otaigbe said one can keep gonorrhea from becoming drug-resistant  by getting tested, and taking the complete treatment, which is a shot and a prescription for azithromycin at the same time.