The Ogle County Health Department is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to address higher than expected rates of gonorrhea in Ogle County.
OCHD Administrator Kyle Auman said the department has seen a 171 percent increase in cases of gonorrhea, a reportable sexually transmitted disease, in Ogle County from seven cases in 2017 to 19 so far this year.
He said Tuesday that the cause of the increase has not yet been determined.
“It’s pretty early on in the investigation,” Auman said. “We don’t have any hypotheses at this point. It’s a complex issue, and there are a lot of variables.”
Each case is being investigated by a OCHD nurse, he said, and findings are then entered into a state data base.
The health department is also working closely with area doctors.
“We want to get the word out to the public so they can take steps to protect themselves,” Auman said.
People who contract the disease may be asymptomatic or symptoms may not present for several weeks or months.
When present, symptoms can include burning or pain with urination, penile or vaginal discharge, and pain or swelling in the testicles of men.
Rectal infection can also cause rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge, and throat infection can cause a sore throat.
Gonorrhea is caused by infection with the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium, and it can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral 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.
Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both women and men.
In women, gonorrhea can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause a serious infection of the reproductive organs called pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause abdominal pain and fever and lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and an increase in the risk of ectopic pregnancy (an abnormal pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus).
In men, gonorrhea may cause inflammation of the testicles and surrounding tissues and can also lead to infertility.
Prevention for 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 every time.
Treating infections with appropriate antibiotics is also important for stopping the spread of gonorrhea.
The Ogle County Health Department recommends that everyone who is sexually active should talk with their healthcare provider about being tested for STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, and anybody who may have been exposed to gonorrhea through a sex partner should seek care immediately for testing and treatment.
OCHD’s staff can provide testing and treatment at two locations 907 W. Pines Rd., Oregon, or 510 Lincoln Highway, Rochelle.
Call the department for more information at 815-562-6976.
For more information on gonorrhea, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/gonorrhea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/.