For the first time, scientists have found a potential vaccine to reduce gonorrhoea infections. A team based in New Zealand, while analysing the effects of a meningitis vaccine that was administered between 2004 and 2008, discovered that individuals who received this vaccine, known at MeNZB, were 31% less likely to become infected with gonorrhoea.
Biologically, the bacteria that cause meningitis and gonorrhoea are closely related. The vaccine, known as an outer membrane vesicle vaccine, mimics components that are released by the bacteria as it multiplies and trains the immune system to recognise and attack the bacteria.
This is an important finding because, according to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea each year. An announcement by WHO in July 2017 revealed that the number of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea infections is growing, with some strains resistant to all available treatments.
There is still a very long road ahead if this vaccine is to become a new weapon in the fight against gonorrhoea, as no clinical trials have been conceptualised yet.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat. It is treatable with antibiotics in most cases, but can cause severe complications such as ectopic pregnancy and infertility if left untreated.
The best way to prevent gonorrhoea is by practising safer sex through consistent condom use. The disease is often symptomless but you can test for it and other STD’s at home with the UDoSTDTest.
For more information on STD symptoms, click here.