February 26, 2007
Last year, Snohomish County gonorrhea cases hit an 18-year high, marking the third consecutive year of increases. Gonorrhea incidence was up by 31 percent, from 244 cases in 2005 to 320 in 2006. "Almost certainly, this reflects increases in unprotected sex," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District.
There are similar increases in gonorrhea cases for the Puget Sound region and statewide, and health officials are considering whether the circulating strains are ones more easily transmitted. King County cases climbed from 1,261 in 2004 to 1,936 in 2006. Statewide cases increased from 3,739 in 2005 to 4,234 last year.
Statewide, men ages 20-30 and women ages 15-25 were at greatest risk. Snohomish demographics are not yet available, but "we'll have a better idea about which groups might be at greatest risk" in a month or so, said Goldbaum.
In contrast, chlamydia cases declined from 2005, when Snohomish had 1,553 cases, to 2006 when it reported 1,502 cases. "People still need to be concerned about having unprotected sex," said Goldbaum. "They need to know their partners' and get cared for if they have symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection."