RENO — The Washoe County Health District reported Tuesday that of the 64 communicable diseases reported by the district to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every week, chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), leads the list.
As of March 2, 276 laboratory confirmed cases of chlamydia have been reported in Washoe County since the beginning of the year. Health officials warn that even though symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, serious irreversible complications, including infertility, can occur. Both the health district and the CDC recommend yearly chlamydia testing of all sexually active women age 25 or younger, older women with risk factors for chlamydial infections (those who have a new sex partner or multiple sex partners during past 90 days) and all pregnant women.
Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States. In 2010, more than 1.3 million chlamydial infections nationwide were reported to CDC, with 1,426 cases being reported by Washoe County. Under-reporting is substantial, according to the health district, because most people with chlamydia are not aware of their infections and do not seek testing.
“Chlamydia is known as a ‘silent’ disease because the majority of infected people have no symptoms,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser. “That’s why periodic testing is so essential to staying healthy.”
Iser added that if untreated, chlamydial infections can progress to serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term consequences. In women, the untreated chlamydia infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube infection, chronic pelvic pain, infertility and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Chlamydia also can increase the chances of becoming infected with HIV, if exposed. Complications among men are rare. Infection sometimes spreads causing pain, fever, and, rarely, sterility.
The good news is chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics.
The Washoe County Health District provides screening and testing for STDs, including HIV, Hepatitis A and B vaccinations; diagnosis and treatment; information, counseling and referrals.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 328-2470 or visit www.washoecounty.us/health/cchs/std.html.