The global sexual health community "needs to recognize that gonorrhea is on the rise and that there should be an increased awareness of the risks of kissing as a route of transmission," said one of the researchers Christopher Fairley, Professor at Monash University in Australia.
"Understanding how it is transmitted is the key to understanding how to control it if transmission by kissing is a key route of transmission then it is important to investigate new methods of control, such as anti-bacterial mouthwash," Fairley added.
According to Dr. B.M. Doda, senior physician at Walia Nursing and Maternity Home in New Delhi, kissing can spread gonorrhea.
'I agree with the study that kissing can also cause gonorrhea though the chances are less. Saliva can also help spread the disease," Dr. Doda told IANS.
Dr. Joydeep Ghosh who is Consultant (Internal Medicine), Fortis Anandapur Kolkata, said: "I have seen people (mostly heterosexual and bi-sexual males) who never had sex for months had oral gonorrhea because of kissing."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year, an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. There is a global rise in gonorrhea rates and, until now, no one has understood why.
The conventional wisdom has been that the disease spreads among people who have oral, anal, or vaginal sex with someone with the disease.
The new research indicates that a significant -- and previously unrecognized route of transmission of the bacterial infection is kissing.
A study, published earlier this year in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, analyzed more than 3,600 men who have sex with men over a 12-month period from March 2016.
By mapping those who only kissed partners, compared to having sex with partners, the same Fairley team was able to determine that the transmission of the disease is high in people who kiss only, and was higher in those who have sex with kissing compared to those who have sex without kissing.
According to Dr. Rahul Sharma, Consultant, Dermatology at Nayati Medicity, Mathura, kissing can increase the chances of gonorrhea in those who indulge in oral sex.
"Recently, we have seen cases of pharyngeal gonorrhea on the rise. We suspect oral gonorrhea when we get a history of oral sex, and other causes of pharyngitis are ruled out. History and type of sexual exposure are important," said Sharma.