KHQ MD ALERT: Gonorrhea Outbreak Increases In Spokane County - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KHQ MD ALERT: Gonorrhea Outbreak Increases In Spokane County

Posted: Updated:

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD), in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), recently noted an unexpected increase in the number of gonorrhea cases in Spokane County.

In consideration of these numbers, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has declared a gonorrhea outbreak for the county. Current data at the end of September 2013 shows a 58 percent increase in gonorrhea cases in Spokane County compared to the same period in 2012.  

Gonorrhea often has no symptoms, especially in women, and due to its asymptomatic nature, testing for gonorrhea remains as important as ever.   "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," said Dr. Joel McCullough, SRHD health officer. "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."  

Gonorrhea is one of several common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and is spread when a person has unprotected sex with someone who has the disease. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men and although appropriate antibiotics will cure the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage done prior to treatment.  

The 2012 Spokane County rate for gonorrhea was 38.1 per 100,000, compared to the statewide rate of 48.1. Year-to-date, the state is also experiencing an increase in cases, up 33 percent compared to last year. Both Spokane County and Washington state remain below the national rate for gonorrhea, which in 2011 was 104.2 per 100,000.  

Sexually-active individuals with symptoms such as penile or vaginal discharge, burning during urination, painful intercourse or, in women, lower abdominal pain, should stop having sex and see a health care provider immediately. Also, anyone with a sexual partner who was recently diagnosed with an STD should see their provider for evaluation.

Some people should be tested for gonorrhea even if they do not have symptoms or know of a sex partner who has gonorrhea. "Anyone who is sexually active should discuss his or her risk factors with a health care provider and ask whether he or she should be tested for gonorrhea or other STDs. Most of the time, a simple urine test can be used to test for gonorrhea," said Dr. McCullough."  

As part of local public health's role in STD control, the health district also sent an update to area health care providers Monday, urging them to screen patients with new or multiple sex partners, as well as treat infections with a recommended dual antibiotic treatment and consider screening and treatment for patients' partners.  

And although the current outbreak is not related to antibiotic resistance, public health and health care providers continue to monitor for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in the community. It is critical to remember that currently-recommended antibiotics remain effective in the United States.  

Other public health responsibilities in STD control include community-wide promotion of safer sexual behaviors and encouraging residents to seek health care, where STD screening and treatment is an integrated part of care. The health district also provides sexual health education for people who have been recently diagnosed with an STD and assistance with anonymously notifying their sex partners about potential exposure. SRHD also offers disease reporting assistance to health care providers.  

If a person has questions about his or her individual risk, possible treatment or about gonorrhea in general, they should talk to their health care provider or visit www.srhd.org. Health care providers needing assistance in diagnosis, treatment or partner notification should visit stdtoolkit.srhd.org  or call (509) 324-1494.

Spokane Regional Health District's web site also offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    BEAUTIFUL HOMES: Top 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale In CDA

    Tuesday, March 25 2014 9:20 AM EDT2014-03-25 13:20:34 GMT
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
    KHQ.COM - When it comes to shopping around for a house, it's always fun to dream. We did a search for some of the most expensive homes for sale right now in the Coeur d' Alene area.>>
  • Widow Seeks $7 Million After Deadly Oso Mudslide

    Widow Seeks $7 Million After Deadly Oso Mudslide

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:10 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:10:58 GMT
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - The lawyer for a woman whose husband died in the deadly Washington state mudslide says her client has filed claims seeking a total of $7 million from Washington state and Snohomish County.Lawyer Corrie Yackulic said Friday that Deborah Durnell wants to learn exactly why a hillside gave way and what government officials knew about risks to those living below in the small community of Oso, 55 miles northeast of Seattle.>>
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - The lawyer for a woman whose husband died in the deadly Washington state mudslide says her client has filed claims seeking a total of $7 million from Washington state and Snohomish County.Lawyer Corrie Yackulic said Friday that Deborah Durnell wants to learn exactly why a hillside gave way and what government officials knew about risks to those living below in the small community of Oso, 55 miles northeast of Seattle.>>
  • Teen Suspended For Asking Miss America To Prom

    Teen Suspended For Asking Miss America To Prom

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:34:48 GMT
    YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom.
    >>
    YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom.

    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • 3rd Person Arrested In McDonald's Robbery

    3rd Person Arrested In McDonald's Robbery

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:56 AM EDT2014-04-19 14:56:28 GMT
    UPDATE: Two suspects have been arrested in connection to the robbery that occurred Thursday evening at the McDonald's at 2200 W. Wellesley Ave. Major Crimes Detectives are also investigating the possibility these suspects are connected to other robbery incidents.>>
    UPDATE: Two suspects have been arrested in connection to the robbery that occurred Thursday evening at the McDonald's at 2200 W. Wellesley Ave. Major Crimes Detectives are also investigating the possibility these suspects are connected to other robbery incidents.
    >>
  • Judge Rules Taxpayers Won't Pay For Sex Offender Treatment

    Judge Rules Taxpayers Won't Pay For Sex Offender Treatment

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:36 AM EDT2014-04-19 06:36:00 GMT
    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has rejected Steven Powell's request to have taxpayers pay for his court-ordered sex offender treatment after a voyeurism conviction.Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper agreed Friday with the state attorney general's office that Powell cited the wrong statute when he made his request.>>
    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has rejected Steven Powell's request to have taxpayers pay for his court-ordered sex offender treatment after a voyeurism conviction.Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper agreed Friday with the state attorney general's office that Powell cited the wrong statute when he made his request.>>
  • North Idaho Poachers Taking Heavy Toll On Game

    North Idaho Poachers Taking Heavy Toll On Game

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:09 AM EDT2014-04-19 06:09:06 GMT
    LEWISTON, Idaho — Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say. Officials tell the Lewiston Tribune in a story on Friday that last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer.
    >>
    LEWISTON, Idaho — Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say. Officials say last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer.

    >>