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Sexually transmitted disease. It is characterized by genitourinary inflammation, caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonococcus). Symptoms in men include burning on urination, discharge of pus, and, with deeper infection, frequent urination, sometimes with blood. Women may have mild vaginal discharge and burning, but there is usually no sign until a sex partner is infected or complicationssometimes seriousarise from its spread beyond the cervix. If spontaneous recovery does not occur, it may cause sterility in both sexes but is rarely fatal. Gonorrhea is common worldwide. Penicillin, generally a successful treatment, reduced its incidence, but resistant strains are increasingly found. Many cases are not reported. Penicillin may also mask coexisting syphilis (since the dose to cure gonorrhea does not cure syphilis).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gonorrhea, visit Britannica.com.