Gonorrhea outbreak declared in Rock Island County

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois (KWQC) - An uptick in gonorrhea cases in Rock Island County had them declaring an outbreak Monday morning.

Photo: Pexels

Across the nation cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis have been increasing. At this time last year in Rock Island County there were 27 reported cases - now, there's already 44.

“We're talking about not only someone's sexual health now, but we're talking about their sexual health in the future and their fertility,” said Chief Operating Officer of the Rock Island County Health Department, Janet Hill.

STI's have been a growing concern across the country. In Rock Island County, it's no different.

“We were not surprised,” added Hill. “We've been seeing our numbers go up recently over several years, and nationally the numbers have been doing the same thing.”

The concern is people simply don't know the steps to be the safest.

“STI's are preventable. If you use a condom with every sex act, you're very unlikely to get an STI,” said Hill.

Officials believe social media can help spread the message, so people are more careful.

“Our next move is to work on a campaign, whether it be some sort of media campaign - we're still working out the details of it,” said Hill. “But probably more through social media. We're finding that is a very effective way to reach out to the public.”

They hope that message will result in more people getting tested and STI's going down.

“If they believe they could possibly have it, or have been exposed - if their sexual partner has mentioned that they've been tested for it and it came back positive - they should get tested right away,” Hill said. “Our goal is to prevent further infection within the community. Treatment is actually fairly simple, it's a round or two of antibiotics.”

In the month of January this year, gonorrhea cases went up more than double from 2018, and the same goes for February.

The Rock Island County Health Department has a walk-in STI clinic from 1-3:30 every Wednesday. It's $25 for testing, and that includes the treatment if needed.