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Gonorrhea outbreak declared in Spokane County

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A gonorrhea outbreak has been declared in Spokane County, Wash., so those in the area may want to consider being tested for the sexually transmitted disease. The Washington State Department of Health declared the outbreak after data was released showing a huge increase in reported cases of the STD.

Large increase in cases
So far in 2013, there has been an increase of more than 50 percent compared to 2012, according to the Global Dispatch. While experts did not speculate on an exact cause for the increase, many cited a lack of STD testing as one of the reasons why the disease may be spreading so quickly. A lack of education and awareness may also be causing the gonorrhea rates to rise in the county.

"In the majority of recent cases, these individuals were treated in an emergency room or urgent care setting, indicating these cases progressed to symptoms, as opposed to being diagnosed through screening. In addition to being more vigilant about protected sex, this is an opportunity for our community to step up its screening for gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases," Joel McCullough, M.D., a health officer with the Spokane Regional Health District, told the news source.

The rates for Spokane County are still lower than the average of the rest of the U.S., but the increase has still prompted health officials to encourage STD tests for those who may have been exposed to the disease. A lab test online can show whether or not the user has contracted gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and other commonly found STDs.

Untreated gonorrhea infections
Gonorrhea infections can lead to many complications, and the infection can be asymptomatic in women, which is further reason to seek lab tests for the disease. In women, early symptoms include bleeding associated with intercourse, painful urination and vaginal discharges. These symptoms usually appear within two to 10 days after infection, but are often mild enough to be mistaken for another disease entirely.

Men generally experience pain that is more severe in the genitals, along with swelling of the testicles and pus discharges from the penis. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease reported that untreated gonorrhea infections can adversely affect the reproductive system. The disease can even spread to the brain and heart in rare cases, but it is generally treatable with antibiotics if caught early.

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