Invisible gonorrhoea prompts test review

A NEW strain of Neisseria gonorrhoeae that is invisible to a lab test commonly used to confirm the infection has been discovered in Australia and is thought to be circulating in the community.

The finding has led to calls for a review of gonorrhoea testing procedures, and in the interim GPs are being urged to consider ordering a culture if a symptomatic patient returns a negative PCR test.

“Gonorrhoeae is one of the most challenging bugs in the laboratory, and it has just thrown up another spanner,” said Professor Basil Donovan, head of the sexual health program at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute.

“In this case, it has picked up a gene sequence that makes it invisible to normal testing. If it is becoming increasingly common, then… we are going to have to look at some serious changes to our laboratory protocols.”

The discovery followed a symptomatic man aged in his 20s presenting to a Newcastle