Alaska official says state likely to lead US in STD rates

April 12, 2018

KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s recent outbreak of chlamydia and gonorrhea is likely to place it in the top tier of national rankings for the two sexually transmitted diseases, a state public health nurse said.

Susan Jones, manager of the state HIV/STD program, said Alaska will likely be in the first- or second-place spot for both of the diseases, which continues the state’s trend of leading the nation in outbreaks, the Peninsula Clarion reported .

Jones said that in 2017, preliminary numbers show that there were more than 2,000 cases of gonorrhea in Alaska, up from 1,454 confirmed cases in 2016.

Alaska has ranked either first or second for chlamydia rates in the nation since 2000, according to a state Department of Public Health and Social Services document.

There were 5,698 cases of chlamydia reported in 2016, according to the document.

In 2017, that number will likely be around 6,000, Jones said.

Untreated chlamydia can cause a host of health problems, including pregnancy complications, infertility, pelvic inflammation and can facilitate the spread of HIV, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Particularly worrisome to public health officials is the increase in syphilis infections.

“The syphilis outbreak is more concerning, because syphilis can end up causing all sorts of problems down the road,” Jones said.

Syphilis can trigger a series of health issues, including neurological problems, tumors, dementia, blindness, hearing loss and death, Jones said.

In March, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology released a public health advisory to raise awareness about the number of syphilis cases reported in the first quarter of 2018.


Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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