(Salt Lake City) – Preliminary data from the Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology indicate that 633 cases of gonorrhea were reported statewide from January 1 through September 30, 2013 compared with 327 cases reported during the same period in 2012. This jump represents a 94% increase. In 2012, a total of 480 cases were reported in Utah.
Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease (after chlamydia) and the fifth most frequently reported communicable disease in Utah. The bacteria are spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. The infection often has no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include discharge or painful urination. Serious long-term health issues can occur if the disease isn’t treated, including infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and an increased likelihood of acquiring HIV and other STDs.
Lynn Meinor, Program Manager for the UDOH’s Communicable Disease Prevention Program says, “Over the past five years, gonorrhea in Utah has been diagnosed primarily among males. However in 2013, there are increased cases among females and within the heterosexual population.” In 2012, 73% of reported cases were among males, while 27% of cases were among females. In the first three quarters of 2013, 60% of cases have been among males, while females comprised 40%.
The Salt Lake County Health Department reports an increase in gonorrhea cases that mirrors the statewide increase. Health experts recommend testing for anyone who is sexually active, particularly anyone with new and/or multiple sexual partners even if they do not have symptoms. “People often don’t test because they have no symptoms. They like to think that they would know if they had an infection, and this is simply a myth,” says Lynn Beltran, Epidemiology Supervisor, Bureau of Infectious Diseases at Salt Lake County Health Department. “We are at the point with this increase that we need people to be talking about it, and we want people to get tested to ensure their well-being,” Beltran adds. Salt Lake County accounted for 72% of the gonorrhea cases from January through September 2013.
Gonorrhea is treatable, but the bacteria have become resistant to many antibiotics over the years. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised the gonorrhea treatment guidelines in 2012, and treatment for gonorrhea now requires a single dose injection plus oral antibiotics taken either as a single dose or twice a day for 7 days. For more information on treatment guidelines visit www.cdc.gov/std/treatment.
Lynn Meinor, UDOH
(801) 538-6198 (desk)
(801) 557-1785 (cell)
Pam Davenport, SLCoHD, PIO
(385) 468-4122 (desk)
(801) 209-0986 (cell)