Until now experts thought the clap was only spread through unprotected sex
But researchers now say the bacteria can also be passed on in saliva.
It means people who engage in deep tongue kissing – or “French kissing” – are at risk.
Trials are underway to see if gargling with an antiseptic mouthwash could keep infections at bay.
Hard to swallow
It mostly infects the privates and bottom and is less common in the throat and eyes.
Those who had kissed and had sex with at least four people were 81 per cent more likely to get throat, or oropharyngeal, gonorrhoea.
And those who had kissed at least four people were 46 per cent more likely to get it than those with one or no partners.
Kiss of death
Study leader Dr Eric Chow said: “A number of pieces of evidence suggest that transmission from the oropharynx (part of the throat) may be more common than previously thought.
“N. gonorrhoeae can be cultured from saliva, suggesting that the exchange of saliva between individuals may potentially transmit gonorrhoea.”
He added: “Antiseptic mouthwash, if shown to be effective against oropharyngeal gonorrhoea, could provide a non-condom and non-antibiotic-based intervention for gonorrhoea control.
“This is particularly relevant in the context of recent reports of highly-resistant N. gonorrhoeae and known challenges associated with the antimicrobial treatment of oropharyngeal gonorrhoea.”
Researchers only studied gay men but say the results are also likely to affect kissing heterosexuals.
NHS says kissing isn’t a risk
The NHS website says gonorrhoea is easily passed between people through unprotected sex and sharing sex toys.
It warns the bacteria are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid and adds: “Gonorrhoea is not spread by kissing.”
It also says the infection cannot be spread through hugging, swimming pools, toilet seats, or sharing baths, towels, cups, plates or cutlery.
Source: The Sun