SEATTLE -- The number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases continues to rise in Washington, state health authorities said Monday.
More than 43,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 2017, a seven percent increase from 2016, which had seen the biggest spike in STD cases since 1992.
According to data released by the Washington Department of Health, Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD with the highest rates among women ages 20 to 24, the report said. Overall 32,454 cases of chlamydia were reported in 2017 with 20,657 cases reported in women.
Men account for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.
“Anyone is at risk for getting any of these infections,” warned Dr. Christopher Baliga, infectious disease specialist at Virginia Mason.
He added many people don’t even know they are infected. “They feel fine, which means that not only are they infected with the potential health problems to themselves, but they’re also living a normal life where they are able to spread it to other people."
2017 Washington State STD Data
2016 Washington State STD Data
If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain in women.
Syphilis can result in blindness, hearing loss and neurologic problems. Congenital syphilis is a growing problem in Washington. From 2016 to 2017, there were as many cases of congenital syphilis as in the previous 10 years combined.
The number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases in California reached a record high last year.
More than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 2017, a 45 percent increase from five years ago, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Nationally rates for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have been rising for several years. More than two million new cases of all three infections were reported in the United States in 2016 — the most ever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC numbers for 2017 won't be available until later this year.
Consistent and correct condom use is still the best way to prevent STDs. The health department is working with local public health agencies and community partners to investigate and reduce the spread of STDs. Early detection and treatment can interrupt the steady climb of STD rates.