GIANT microbes Gonorrhea
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FACTS: The clap, or gonorrhea, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. (The word “clap” comes from “clapier,” the old French word for brothel.)
According to the World Health Organization, gonorrhea causes “infections principally of the urethra in men and endocervix in women, although it may also infect extragenital mucosal sites, including the oropharynx and anorectum.” In plain English, it causes: itchiness, burning, abominable pain, and eye-catching discharges from infected areas.
While symptoms generally occur within a week or so of infection, in a large number of cases – particularly in women – no symptoms are observed. Not only does this help the disease spread, but untreated gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which can scar the uterus, increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, and ultimately cause infertility. In addition, babies born to infected mothers can suffer blindness and life-threatening blood infections. Finally, gonorrhea infections can raise the risk of H.I.V. transmission by up to 500 percent.
Gonorrhea is generally contracted by young adults – and as it is spread almost entirely by sexual activity, promiscuity is the prime risk factor.
For those at risk, testing is essential: in most cases the clap can be treated with a single dose of antibiotics. But hold the applause: not only are resistant strains beginning to emerge, but if the reproductive system has been damaged, antibiotics will not repair it.
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