Girl, 11, catches gonorrhoea after swimming in thermal pool in holiday horror

An 11-year-old girl caught gonorrhoea from swimming in a volcanic thermal pool on holiday.

She and her family from Austria had taken a dip at Specchio di Venere on the Italian island of Pantelleria which doctors say was a breeding ground for the infection.

A couple of days after the dip in the warm and stagnant water, the 11-year-old started feeling a painful burning sensation commonly associated with gonorrhoea.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, shallow pools close to body temperature are isotonic, slightly acidic from CO2 bubbles, and contain organic particles.

Together the water potentially supports survival of gonococcus bacteria that causes gonorrhoea.

To treat the burning pains, the girl was given an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream which she used for the rest of the holiday, but alarm bells rang when the problem persisted once home.

Over two weeks since the thermal pool dip, her parents took her to see a doctor in Austria where a swab test revealed she had caught the disease.

Yet her parents and sister escaped the pool without gonorrhoea leaving the girl forced to insist she had not had sex.

Followup exams with the family and "no evidence" of sexual intercourse led doctors to conclude that the girl picked up the infection at Pantelleria of the coast of Sicily, NYPost reports.

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The girl has now fully recovered from the scare thanks to standard antibiotic treatment for the typically sexually transmitted disease.

According to the medical report: "Her first reaction was fear that her new classmates might hear about this infection.

"The stress of adjusting to a new school coupled with the infection led to crying and fatigue, particularly just before treatment, as she was very afraid of the infusion."

Doctors Felicity Goodyear-Smith and Robert Schabetsberger warned: "There needs to be public understanding that people bathing in heavily frequented shallow thermal pools risk exposure to pathogens through inoculation by other bathers.

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"A sign should make visitors aware of strict hygiene before entering the pools."

They added that using antibacterial soap and an easily accessible shower before and after going in the pool would help to prevent contamination.

The researchers also explained that her parents probably did not become infected because young girls are more susceptible to infection due to their pH balance being lower than adults.

Children have previously been reported to have caught gonorrhoea from a toilet seat and sharing a shower towel with an infected family member, the doctors noted.

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