New Brunswick declares gonorrhea outbreak, reminding citizens about importance of safe sex

FILE - An increase in the number of gonorrhea cases in the province has prompted the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, to declare a provincial outbreak and remind New Brunswickers about the importance of safe sex practices. Devin Sauer / Global News

New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health has declared a provincial outbreak of gonorrhea in the province, as the number of cases continues to increase.

A total of 96 cases of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were reported to Regional Public Health in 2018. The annual average has been 54 cases in the past five years.

During the first quarter of this year, 20 cases have already been reported in the province. The average during that span in the previous five years were 12 cases.

“We encourage people who are having unprotected sex to get tested,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell.

“It is not unusual for individuals who have a sexually transmitted infection to have more than one infection at the same time. HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are all examples of these infections.”

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Russell goes on to point out that people with multiple sexual partners may have been exposed to the STI without their knowledge.

She also says the popularity of dating apps where people “communicate quickly to arrange anonymous sexual encounters” has made it harder to track STIs.

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“When people don’t know their sexual partners’ identities, it is difficult to contact those partners for followup testing and treatment,” she said.

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Russell encourages people to practice safe sex, get tested regularly for STIs and to consult their doctor or Public Health if they believe they have been exposed to such infections.

She notes that if left untreated, STIs can have lasting effects on a person’s health and fertility.

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