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Granite State sees doubling of number of gonorrhea cases in 2016

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 19. 2017 1:41PM
This chart from the NH Department of Health and Human Services shows the increase in gonorrhea cases in the state in recent years. 

CONCORD — Cases of gonorrhea in New Hampshire nearly doubled in 2016, with 465 cases of the sexually transmitted disease reported, the state Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday.

"New Hampshire historically has had one of the lowest rates of gonorrhea infections in the country; however, over the last year we have seen a significant increase in the number of reported cases," said state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.

"We are actively working to identify individuals who may have been exposed to gonorrhea in order to connect them with testing and treatment. We are also asking health care providers and patients with gonorrhea to help connect sex partners with medical care for evaluation and treatment of gonorrhea infection."

Between 2007 and 2013 there were about 130 cases per year reported, said officials in the DHHS’s Division of Public Health Services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the latest national statistics available are from 2015 when New Hampshire, with 245 reported cases, had the lowest per 100,000 population of all 50 states.

Donni Smalls, media relations specialist at the CDC in Atlanta, said the centers will not have the 2016 data compiled until the end of the year.

She said the number of gonorrhea cases nationwide has been increasing. "There was about a 13 percent increase from 2014 to 2015," she said.

Information provided by the DHHS can be viewed in the .pdf packet below:

In 2009, the national rate of reported gonorrhea cases reached a historic low of 98.1 cases per 100,000 population, according to the CDC. However, during 2009–2012, the rate increased slightly each year to 106.7 cases per 100,000 population in 2012. In 2013, the rate decreased slightly to 105.3 cases per 100,000 population and then during 2013–2015, the rate increased each year. In 2015, a total of 395,216 cases were reported for a rate of 123.9 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 population.

In 2015, a total of 395,216 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the United States, yielding a rate of 123.9 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 population. Since 2014, the rate of reported gonorrhea cases increased 12.8 percent since 2014, and increased 19.9 percent since 2011.

Smalls said the number of cases reported in New Hampshire for 2016 is small when compared to other states but, she said, no one wants to see any increase.

Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria and can be transmitted through sex.

Gonorrhea most commonly infects the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes in women and the urethra in women and men, but can also infect the throat and rectum, officials said.

According to the CDC, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in the United States. In 2009, the national rate of reported cases reached a historic low, but since then rates have increased.

People with gonorrhea may not have symptoms, or might only have mild symptoms. Symptoms can include burning or pain with urination, discharge, and pain or swelling.

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.

Prevention of gonorrhea includes abstinence, getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases before beginning a relationship with a new partner, limiting the number of sex partners and using condoms.

Treating infections with appropriate antibiotics is also important for stopping the spread of gonorrhea.

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Editor's Note: Some of the numbers presented in an earlier version of this story were inaccurate.

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