Health Alert Issued for Statewide Gonorrhea Increase
With gonorrhea infections continuing to climb, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) recently sent an alert to healthcare providers across the state encouraging them to promote prevention, testing and treatment with patients.
The most notable case number increases have been in Laramie County with a 140 percent increase in 2017 over the same date in 2016, and Natrona County with a 33 percent increase.
“The increase in Laramie County is particularly startling,” said Courtney Smith, Communicable Disease Surveillance Program Manager with WDH. “We do not want these increased rates to continue and so are alerting our healthcare partners to the concern.”
“The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to be tested,” Smith said.
Smith indicates the following people should be screened for gonorrhea:
Those who have been with a new partner in the past 60 days
Sexually active males and females under the age of 25
Those who have STD symptoms such as discharge, burning, or itching at the affected site
Those who have had sexual contact with someone who has an STD
Men who have sex with men
Current or past residents of detention or corrections facilities
“People infected with gonorrhea are more likely to acquire HIV infection so it is essential that people understand their risks and are screened, even if they don’t have symptoms,” said Smith.
Gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. STD screening, early diagnosis, and timely treatment are essential in prevention STD transmission and long-term health problems.
Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of sex partners, and consistently and correctly using condoms are all effective prevention strategies. WDH Communicable Disease Unit efforts such condom dispenser activities and a condom mailer option help make condoms available for those who can’t afford them or can’t get to places where condoms are typically offered.
To learn more about condom availability, as well as STD prevention and testing, visit www.knowyo.org or contact a medical professional. The www.knowyo.org site offers voucher codes for confidential low or no-cost gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV and hepatitis testing that can be used in many locations across Wyoming.
In some Wyoming counties, local health departments also offer comprehensive sexual health risk assessments and testing.