Gonorrhea cases are up nearly 33% for the entire state of Washington compared to last year. Numbers for Spokane County show a 58% increase in gonorrhea over the past year. The Spokane County Health District and the Washington State Department of Health have declared a gonorrhea outbreak.
Gonorrhea is a dangerous disease that often goes undetected for far too long
Health officials say the real trouble with gonorrhea is that most of the time symptoms just aren't present. People aren't aware that they have the infection, so they continue to have sex and spread the disease.
It's more likely that men rather than women would show symptoms first. Those symptoms include discharge and pain during urination in both men and women. When untreated, gonorrhea can cause a testicular infection in men. Women can experience pain during sex and lower abdominal pain.
The Health District says if you're sexually active, and not in a mutually monogamous relationship, use protection and get tested.
"Getting tested is very important prevention is always better than treatment," said health programs specialist Anna Halloran. "Talk to your doctor about your sexual history and risks and they can decide whether or not you should be tested for gonorrhea."
Women under the age of 25 should be screened for gonorrhea at least annually.
If you have a new sex partner, or multiple sex partners and don't use condoms, you're at greater risk of infection and should be tested even more regularly.