ITHACA, NY – The Tompkins County Health Department is reporting a rise in sexually transmitted infections throughout the county.

According to a press release from the department, from January to June there have been 174 cases of Chlamydia, 22 cases of Gonorrhea and 6 cases of Syphilis. Cases have been reported in both males and females, ages 16 to 62.

The department warns that many people who reported one of these infections said that they had had anonymous sexual encounters arranged via websites or dating apps. As such, they may be unable to inform sex partners of exposure, which may cause the infections to spread further.

Of particular note is the increase in Syphilis cases. According to health department statistics, only 4 cases were reported in 2015. That number has already been exceeded this year with six months to go.

The numbers for Gonorrhea are down from this time last year, but still significantly up from previous years. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 2012 – 13 cases
  • 2013 -17 cases
  • 2014 – 13 cases
  • 2015 – 37 cases
  • 2016 – 22 cases

The story for Chlamydia is similar:

  • 2012 – 156 cases
  • 2013 – 131 cases
  • 2014 – 137 cases
  • 2015 – 174 cases
  • 2016 – 174 cases

Here’s some details about each of these STIs from the Tompkins Health Department:

[su_note]STIs can be spread through oral, anal, and vaginal sex and can be present without symptoms.

Chlamydia has been referred to as “the silent killer”, as 7 out of 10 people who have the bacterial infection do not have any symptoms. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on.

Gonorrhea is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15-24 years. Although medication will stop the infection, it will not repair any permanent damage done by the disease. Antimicrobial resistance to Gonorrhea is of increasing concern, and successful treatment of it is becoming more and more difficult.

Syphilis is an STI that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. There are no over-the-counter drugs that will cure syphilis, but it’s easy to treat in its early stages when detected; latter stages can affect the central nervous system manifesting as cranial nerve dysfunction, meningitis, stroke, acute altered mental status, and auditory abnormalities for example.[/su_note]

Resources for finding confidential, free or low cost testing, support and further education can be found at http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/std or by calling the Tompkins County Health Department at (607) 274-6604.

(Featured image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.