Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the country and in the world today. Many different STDs have been identified, and millions of people in the world are infected annually.
Depending on the disease, the infection can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the exchange of body fluids including blood.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common diseases passed from one person to another during sexual activity. Infection with gonorrhea is more common in certain groups of people.
Doctor Gapira Ganza works in the Internal Medicine Department of The Butare University Hospital (CHUB) and says that the highest reported infection rates occur among adolescents, young adults and drug users.
The doctor says that Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. The infection is transmitted from one person to another through vaginal, oral, and anal sexual relations.
He adds that men have a 20 per cent chance of getting the infection by having sexual relations with a woman infected with gonorrhea, where as women have a 50 per cent chance of getting infected by having sexual relations with an infected man. An infected mother may transmit gonorrhea to her newborn during vaginal childbirth.
He also highlights that symptoms may appear within two to 10 days after exposure and even longer. In women it can last for up to three weeks.
Symptoms vary depending on the sex of an individual. In women, it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease; a serious medical condition that can lead to infertility, infection and irritation of the cervix, need to urinate often, itching and burning of the vagina, usually with a thick yellow and green discharge. Also infection and irritation of the vagina usually appears in children who may be victims of sexual abuse.
In men, pain and burning during urination in most common. There may also be a thick yellow discharge, inflammation and infection of a duct in the testicles.
In young children, there may be an irritation of the mucous membranes in the eyes and if not treated, can cause blindness.
Gonococcal throat infection should be considered in people who complain of sore throat and have other signs of gonococcal infection.
Throat infections from gonorrhea are transmitted through oral sex but occur without any other symptoms in less than five per cent of people infected.
Rectal pain or rectal discharge can be a sign of infection of the prostate and is transmitted through anal intercourse.
Other alarming signs of the disease include; fever, abdominal pain, discharge from the penis or vagina, pain when urinating, arthritis and joint pain, appearance of a rash with dark centers and lethargy.
Gonorrhea can develop into more serious medical conditions if not treated. The infection may spread through the bloodstream and affect mucous membranes throughout the body.
Symptoms of more serious disease can include joint pain and rash. Complications of gonorrhea can also include; meningitis an inflammation of the brain and endocarditis an infection of the heart.
Diagnosis of the disease
The doctor will conduct a physical examination to confirm the presence of the disease. Tenderness for women in the area of the sex organs and a pus-filled discharge from the vagina or penis, along with a high white blood cell count and fever could indicate an infection.
A sample of the discharge will be sent to the laboratory. The laboratory will put the specimen on a special bacteria plate to see if it will grow the gonorrhea bacteria. This usually takes at least two days to detect.
The doctor may also order diagnostic tests to examine samples of the discharge under a microscope. Most hospitals and clinics now have urine kits that will screen for gonorrhea. These tests are not as sensitive as genital cultures but are good enough for screening.
Previously a class of antibiotics known as the fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin were widely used in the treatment of gonorrheal infection.
Because of increasing resistance of many tested samples of the disease to the fluoroquinolone drugs, today cephalosporin are used to treat gonorrheal infections.
The doctor may prescribe a single dose injection of an antibiotic such as ceftriaxone.
As with other sexually transmitted infections such as Syphilis, Chlamydia, HIV and Aids, ones safest is the ‘A-B-C’ approach; that is Abstinence, Be faithful and Condoms.
However, should one find themselves infected or with an infected partner, immediate treatment should be sought, and thereafter a change in lifestyle.