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Pharyngitis - gonococcal

  • Definition

    Gonococcal pharyngitis is an infection of the throat involving the tonsils and the larynx (pharynx), caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


    Alternative Names

    Gonococcal pharyngitis


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Gonococcal pharyngitis is a sexually-transmitted disease. It is acquired through oral sex with an infected partner. The majority of throat infections caused by gonococci have no symptoms (asymptomatic).

    When discomfort is present, it is generally mild. Symptoms involving the rest of the body are not normally present unless the person develops disseminated gonococcemia, a wide-spread infection of the bloodstream.

    Untreated gonorrhea may spread to other parts of the body, causing inflammation of the testes or prostate in men, or pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

    Gonococci in the throat is most common in men who have sex with men, where pharyngeal (throat) infection is present in 10 to 25% of cases of gonorrhea. Risk factors include recent exposure to gonorrhea, sexual activity with multiple partners, and performing oral sex.

    Between 320,000-360,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. The incidence has remained steady for several years at 1 case per 1000 people, with rates being higher in African American populations and in men who have sex with men.