Girl, 11, Likely Got Gonorrhea From Hot Spring

Doctors say infected swimmer likely left bacteria behind
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2021 2:33 AM CST
11-Year-Old Likely Got Gonorrhea From Hot Spring
Image of the thermal mud and the hot spring baths of the volcanic thermal lake "Specchio di Venere" in Pantelleria Island.   (Getty Images / LaChouettePhoto)

An 11-year-old Austrian girl started experiencing vaginal burning and discharge while on vacation with her family in Italy—and back home, it was determined she had gonorrhea. In a case study published in September but just now making headlines, doctors say the girl likely contracted the bacterial infection (which was successfully treated with antibiotics) while swimming in a hot spring on vacation, Gizmodo reports. The symptoms started two days after the family visited Specchio di Venere (“Mirror of Venus”), a crater lake on Italy’s Pantelleria Island, and the girl and her father went in one of the hot springs that lie along the edge of the lake.

Gonorrhea is typically transmitted sexually, but the girl had been with her family for the entire trip and denied having any sexual interactions. Gonorrhea bacteria prefer hot and humid environments, like the hot pool the girl soaked in, and doctors say an infected swimmer likely had left some bacteria behind that then infected the girl. "There are historical case reports in the literature of gonococcal epidemics in children’s hospitals being traced to common baths," they say in the case study, which goes on to suggest that such nonsexual routes of transmission be thoroughly investigated in children who contract the infection, per Fox News. (Read more gonorrhea stories.)

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