Gonorrhea Runs Amok in Northern Idaho, Spokane Areas

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The symptoms of gonorrhea include vaginal discharge, and pain during sex and urination. Long-term effects are more severe and include meningitis and heart inflammation. And right now, the sexually transmitted disease is giving health officials in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho fits.

That's because the number of cases in those areas has skyrocketed in recent months, and health officials have declared an outbreak of the disease, the Spokesman-Review reports

Cases of the illness, which in recent years has become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, are on the rise, with identified cases up 50 percent over the average of the last six quarters. 

"“We are seeing the highest rate we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” Anna Halloran, Spokane Regional Health District disease intervention specialist, told the Spokesman-Review

In Idaho's Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone counties, 15 cases of gonorrhea were reported in 2012. In 2013, 42 cases were reported. This year, there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of reported cases, and more are expected before year's end.

Nearby Spokane County ranks sixth in Washington for the number of gonorrhea cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2012, 181 cases were reported, and 329 were reported in 2013. Officials said they expect the number of cases in 2014 to be in excess of that, as well.