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ISLAND SEES MARKED INCREASE IN GONORRHEA CASES

The Department of Health is advising the public of a marked increase in cases of gonorrhea in Bermuda. The increase began in June and seems to be continuing. Of those cases reported, the ages range from about 20 to 50, with half of the cases in persons aged 26 years or under.  About two-thirds of the cases reported to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit affected females.

Over the past 2 months (June and July), there have been 20 cases reported. This is well above the 2 to 9 cases reported each year during June and July from 2012 to 2016.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can infect both men and women. It can cause infections in the genitals (vagina/penis), the anus, and the throat. You can get gonorrhea by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has gonorrhea. A pregnant woman with gonorrhea can give the infection to her baby during childbirth. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.

If you notice any symptoms of gonorrhea, or if your partner has an STI or symptoms, both of you should be examined by your doctor. Alternatively, you can visit the Communicable Disease Control Clinic, Department of Health, 67 Victoria Street for free, confidential testing. It is also important to inform all your sexual partners if an infection is confirmed, and encourage them to seek medical advice.

Some men and women with gonorrhea may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms, if experienced, may include:

A painful/burning sensation when urinating

In men: a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis; painful or swollen testicles

In women: increased vaginal discharge; vaginal bleeding between periods

Anal infections may include: discharge; anal itching; soreness; bleeding; painful bowel movements

The only way to avoid gonorrhea (or other STIs) is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection:

  • Be in a long-term  relationship with one sexual partner, who only has you as a sexual partner, and has been tested and has negative STI test results
  • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex

Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment. If diagnosed with an STI you must return to your doctor for treatment and notify your sexual partners so that they can be diagnosed and/or treated as well.  It is vitally important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection.

It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing. There is evidence that a strain of gonorrhea seen locally may be resistant to treatment by one of the most common antibiotics. If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a health care provider to be checked again.

If you have been diagnosed and treated for gonorrhea, to avoid getting re-infected or spreading gonorrhea to your partner(s), you and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have each completed treatment. Reinfection is possible.

Call or visit your physician or the Communicable Disease Control Clinic, Department of Health, 67 Victoria Street, Hamilton. Telephone 278-6442 if you have any questions/concerns.

For more information, see www.health.gov.bm/health-data-and-monitoring

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