What is Systemic Gonococcal Infection?

What is Systemic Gonococcal Infection?

Gonorrhea Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. It can infect both men and women and typically affects one or more of the following:

  • urethra
  • throat
  • rectum
  • neck

Most cases of infection occur in women. Women with gonorrhea infections can also transmit the bacteria to their newborns during childbirth. Gonorrhea infections in infants typically affect their eyes.

to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) According to the study, 350,062 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2014. The CDC also reported that gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial STI in the United States. Treatment for gonorrhea is effective and convenient, but most cases go untreated.

Over time, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea can spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. This can lead to a serious medical condition known as systemic gonococcal infection or disseminated gonococcal infection (FDI).

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What are the symptoms of gonorrhea?

Not everyone infected with gonorrhea will have symptoms in the early stages. However, you may experience:

  • thick discharge from the penis
  • increased vaginal discharge
  • painful urination
  • spotting between periods
  • swollen testicles
  • painful bowel movements
  • anal itching

When gonorrhea infections are left untreated, bacteria can spread and cause symptoms. The specific symptoms depend on the body area affected by the bacteria. Common symptoms with DGI include:

  • fever or chills
  • feeling sick or being sick in general (malaise)
  • pain in joints
  • swelling of the joints
  • pain in the ankle or heel tendons
  • skin rash with pink or red patches filled with pus

Causes of YGE

Gonorrhea is an STI that can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral intercourse. YGE can develop within two weeks of being infected with gonorrhea. Once in the bloodstream, gonorrhea can affect various tissues and cause permanent damage.

Who is at Risk for Developing Gonorrhea?

Although gonorrhea is a common STI, some groups have a higher risk of developing LTI. These include:

  • people having unprotected sex
  • people with multiple sex partners
  • Men and women under 25
  • men and women engaged in sex work

How is the diagnosis of YGE made?

Your doctor will check for gonorrhea or symptoms of FDI. Testing for gonorrhea typically involves taking a sample or culture from the infected area. The sample is sent to the laboratory where it is analyzed for the presence of bacteria. Results are usually available within 24 hours.

Cultures for testing can be obtained from:

  • blood
  • skin lesion
  • fluid from joints
  • cervix
  • throat
  • anus
  • urethra

If you test positive for gonorrhea, your doctor may order additional tests to determine if you have other sexually transmitted infections. Gonorrhea is often diagnosed along with other STIs such as chlamydia.

What are the Complications of LSI?

If you think you have gonorrhea, you should seek treatment immediately. Untreated gonorrhea can spread and cause serious and irreversible complications. Systemic gonococcal infection is a complication of gonorrhea that occurs when gonorrhea bacteria enter the bloodstream.

Other complications can develop when gonorrhea bacteria enter the bloodstream. These may include:

  • gonococcal arthritis, including rash and rheumatoid arthritis
  • gonococcal endocarditis with damage to the inner lining of the heart muscle
  • gonococcal meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord

Other complications of gonorrhea include infertility. The infection can spread to the fallopian tubes and uterus in women and cause epididymitis in men; which is inflammation and swelling of the epididymis. Untreated gonorrhea also increases the risk of acquiring and spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Gonorrhea can also be passed from mother to baby at birth. The infection can cause blindness and scalp sores in infants.

How is YGE Treated?

Treatment of gonorrhea and FSI typically involves the use of antibiotics. Penicillin was once the primary treatment for gonorrhea, but antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea have rendered penicillin ineffective to treat the condition. Antibiotics called cephalosporins are often used to treat gonorrhea. Typically, these drugs are given through a vein in your arm or through a vein rather than by mouth.

Gonorrhea treatment also includes identifying the source of the infection. If you have gonorrhea, your doctor will ask about your sexual partner. If they have infections, your partner will need to be tested and treated. This can prevent the spread of the disease.

What is the long-term outlook for people with giardiasis?

You’re more likely to make a full recovery with gonorrhea or HGE if you start treatment quickly. It is important to seek medical attention if you develop symptoms or suspect an infection. This allows your doctor to diagnose and treat the infection. Symptoms typically improve within one to two days of starting treatment.

If you don’t want to seek treatment for your symptoms or if you don’t follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations, your long-term outlook may not be that good. Systemic gonococcal infections affecting different parts of the body can cause permanent damage.

How Can LGE Be Prevented?

Prevention of YGE requires the prevention of gonorrhea. Abstaining or not having sexual intercourse is the only way to completely prevent this condition. If you are sexually active, you can take the following steps to prevent gonorrhea:

  • You have a sexual partner and make sure this person does not have an infection.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex.
  • Make sure your sexual partner is treated for gonorrhea.


Colange, N. (2005). Gonorrhea screening: statement of recommendation. Annals of Family Medicine, 3 (3), 263-267

Gonorrhea: CDC fact sheet. (2015, 14 October)

Gonococcal infections. (2011, January 28)

Gonorrhea: Complications. (2014, 2 January)

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, 2 January). gonorrhea

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, March 18). STD symptoms: Common STDs and their symptoms

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