Dr. Vance McCracken
April 27, 2012
Neisseria gonorrhea, or Gonorrhea, is a sexually transmitted disease that is considered the second most dominant in the world. This disease has very interesting components that includes a location of where it likes to “live” in the human host, distinct symptoms, virulence factors that help defend against the host immune system, and how it can survive from host to host. All of these factors go into what is necessary to thrive and spread its life, however by understanding how this bacteria functions, the human population has the ability to learn from it and treat and protect from other encounters and threats from this organism. This will give a glimpse to what this organism is all about and how to combat it in the future.
Gonorrhea is gonococci that is transmitted sexually and is only able to live within a human host. It is not able to cause infection in other animals. In order to survive, it requires close contact between human hosts for it to be able to thrive. It is apparent in both males and females, however the probabilities of contracting the disease differs for both. After one sexual encounter, a female’s chances of contracting the infection is about 50% with an infected man, whereas a male’s chances of contracting it is at about 20% (Goering). Besides sexual transmission, gonorrhea can be transmitted from mother to child, congenital gonorrhea, if the mother has contracted the disease prior to giving birth. This infection can be asymptomatic, however hold many signs that can appear on the host after infection.
Signs and symptoms can be shown two to seven days after infection and can vary from person to person and gender to gender (Goering). For males, it can include urethral discharge and pain from passing urine, and for females, vaginal discharge. A majority of the women that contract this disease show no signs of infection and may continue to spread it until someone experiences symptoms. Women who are asymptomatic may not know they have gonorrhea until a secondary problem occurs from the infection. This includes pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pelvic pain, and infertility (Goering). These complications may not be brought on if the infection is treated in a respectable amount of time. Majority of men will show signs and symptoms right away which can become very painful and irritating if not treated in a timely fashion. Babies who contract the infection while in the womb can have ophthalmia neonatorum, which can create a sticky discharge in the eye (Goering). A big factor in this infection is time, the longer that the infection has time to do damage, the shorter amount of time that it can stay localized. If it is not localized, it can move up the urethral tract and cause further complications in both males and females. In order for the organism to survive within the host, the organism needs “help” from factors that can mess with the host’s immune system and other complications.
The entry of gonorrhea can vary, but mainly enter through the vagina of females and through the mucosal skin of the urethra of the penis for males. The organism lack flagella which make it non-motile however have other factors that make it very successful in spreading. The organism contains Opa proteins and pilus that are important for adhesion to the host. Its main ability is to adhere to the surfaces of the host and rapidly divide (Goering). Some other virulence factors include Rmp proteins, which are important for inhibiting bactericidal activity, IgA protease, which protect itself against secretory IgA, and the capsule that protects itself from phagocytosis (Goering). The organism attack non-ciliated cells which give them protection from phagocytosis and give them the ability to divide and spread (Goering). They are engulfed in vacuoles that protect them and allow them to be discharged onto epithelial cells, which then can show symptoms and...
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