Wyoming health officials are reporting an “alarming” increase in reported gonorrhea cases across the state during the first half of 2015.
“So far this year, 61 cases of gonorrhea have been reported to us in comparison to 31 infections by this time last year,” said Courtney Smith, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program manager with WDH. “This increased number of cases is large enough for us to describe the situation as an outbreak.”
Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sexual activity. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease in women and infertility in men and women.
“The two-fold increase in gonorrhea infections is definitely a concern and it is essential for anyone at risk get tested and properly treated,” Smith said. “We’re seeing individuals with ages between 20 and 29 account for almost half of the infections.”
Surrounding states have seen gonorrhea outbreaks closely followed by more serious outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases such syphilis and HIV.
Tai Wright, Communicable Disease Prevention Program manager with WDH, said “The risk of gonorrhea combined with the potential threat of other sexually transmitted diseases makes it so important for those at risk to seek testing and treatment for themselves and for all sexual partners. We know telling partners can be hard, but we have specially trained staff members who can help you notify partners anonymously.”
Wright said most people who have gonorrhea or other STDs do not show symptoms or feel sick. “The only way to know for sure is to get yourself tested,” she said.
“Fortunately, the same steps you can take to decrease your risk of gonorrhea infection can also reduce your risk for HIV and other STDs,” Wright said. Actions recommended by WDH include abstinence, limiting the number of partners, correct and consistent condom use and getting tested before starting a new sexual relationship.