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December 2013

Our Weak Defense Against the Gonococcus

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Toledo College of Medicine, Toledo, Ohio
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(12):1505-1506. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.5365

In view of the recent development of antibiotic resistance by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, this may be a particularly good time to review gonococcal infection of the eye and its importance today and historically in the development of ophthalmology.

The gonococcus can evade natural defenses, can penetrate the intact epithelium, and has the potential for rapid progression to corneal perforation, so making the correct diagnosis is important. Although ophthalmologists may not encounter it often, infection elsewhere in the body is a major public health issue. At least 600 000 new cases occur every year in this country, but there are no reliable data on the incidence of ocular infection (written communication from K. A. Workowski, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], April 11, 2013). The only more common reportable disease is chlamydia.

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