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:
  • Also on KHQ.comMore>>

  • KHQMD

    KHQMD

    KHQMD - presented by Rockwood Clinic and Deaconess Medical Center - Your Health, Right Now>>
    KHQMD - presented by Rockwood Clinic and Deaconess Medical Center - Your Health, Right Now>>

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>>

  • BACK TO SCHOOL: See where your school ranks in performance

    BACK TO SCHOOL: See where your school ranks in performance

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:53 PM EDT2014-08-28 02:53:53 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Two schools in the Spokane area received top rankings based on a new assessment, according to the Washington Policy Center. Using assessments based on a study by the Washington State Board of Education, the Washington Policy Center ranked schools on an "A to F-" scale, with 14 percent of schools in in and around Spokane finishing with A's or B's.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Two schools in the Spokane area received top rankings based on a new assessment, according to the Washington Policy Center. Using assessments based on a study by the Washington State Board of Education, the Washington Policy Center ranked schools on an "A to F-" scale, with 14 percent of schools in in and around Spokane finishing with A's or B's.>>
  • Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Thursday, March 20 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-03-20 17:04:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
  • PHOTOS: National Dog Day!

    PHOTOS: National Dog Day!

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:02 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:02:10 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Tuesday, August 26th is when we celebrate man's best friend! It's National Dog Day! National Dog Day was created back in 2004, and it gives us a chance to stop and appreciate those who offer us their unconditional love, support, and acceptance: our pups! INSIDE>>>|Submit photos of YOUR dog!|>>
    KHQ.COM - Tuesday, August 26th is when we celebrate man's best friend! It's National Dog Day! National Dog Day was created back in 2004, and it gives us a chance to stop and appreciate those who offer us their unconditional love, support, and acceptance: our pups! INSIDE>>>|Submit photos of YOUR dog!|>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • Cause determined in Eloika Lake brush fire

    Cause determined in Eloika Lake brush fire

    Thursday, August 28 2014 2:40 AM EDT2014-08-28 06:40:38 GMT
    DEER PARK, Wash. - Firefighters from multiple agencies are responded to a brush fire north of Deer Park near Eloika Lake on Wednesday.>>
    DEER PARK, Wash. - Firefighters from multiple agencies are responded to a brush fire north of Deer Park near Eloika Lake on Wednesday. A Fire Captain with Spokane County Fire District #4 told KHQ as of 6:00pm, the fire is about 20 acres in size and crews were trying to get a line around the wind driven fire. Structures have burned, though firefighters don't know exactly how many.>>
  • Dog shot and killed by deputy in Spokane Valley

    Dog shot and killed by deputy in Spokane Valley

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 11:02 PM EDT2014-08-28 03:02:40 GMT
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Spokane County deputy shot and killed a dog Wednesday afternoon in Spokane Valley after he said the dog attacked him.>>
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Spokane County deputy shot and killed a dog Wednesday afternoon in Spokane Valley after he said the dog attacked him. The Sheriff's Office told KHQ the deputy was trying to return property to the home near Sprague and Henry. INSIDE>>>|RAW INTERVIEW from the dog's owner|>>