Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services is continually monitoring the rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to recent data, the number of chlamydia cases reported in New Hampshire increased from 1,611 in 2003 to 2,055 in 2007. The numbers for 2008 are still being compiled, but the total number of reported cases is 2,096, which also represents an increase.
“We never like to see an increase in disease,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. “This is a preventable and treatable illness, so more education should go a long way toward reducing these numbers. Regular testing is also recommended to make sure people do not have the disease but don’t know it. Some of the increase, however, may actually be due to more awareness and therefore more testing. It takes a while for the numbers to decrease once awareness is raised.”
Chlamydia is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated it may compromise a woman’s fertility. Chlamydia is known as a "silent" disease because about three quarters of infected women and about half of infected men have no symptoms.
If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. Many women have no signs, but symptoms can include burning upon urination, lower abdominal pain, low back pain, nausea, fever, and bleeding. Among men symptoms can include discharge or pain upon urination.
In New Hampshire, individuals age 15-24 were most affected as this group represented 73% of cases in 2007. The highest incidence was in persons age 20-24 years. In 2007 approximately three times as many females were reported with chlamydia as males.
STDs and chlamydia are two of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week. For more information on chlamydia or other STDs, visit the DHHS Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention Program at www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/STDHIVPREVENT/default.htm, call the Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496, or go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.