An outbreak of gonorrhea in New Brunswick that was first announced more than two years ago, continues to take hold in the province.
According to new numbers released by Dr. Jennifer, Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, 88 cases of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) were reported between January 1 and July 13, 2021. The typical average for an entire year is 54.
Russell said it’s not clear what has caused the surge in cases, but she said it’s important to get tested regardless.
“I don’t take this lightly, whether it’s a male or a female who is infected,” Russell said.
“I want everybody to get tested. Regardless of whether you think you’re in a monogamous relationship or not, there are things happening that we know with this data that we really are encouraging everybody to get tested right now.”
The current outbreak was announced in April 2019. At the time, Russell said the popularity of dating apps where people “communicate quickly to arrange anonymous sexual encounters” had made it harder to track STIs.
Of the 88 cases reported this year, Russell said there are 52 men and 36 women. The median ages of the cases is 31 for men and 30 for women.
Russell said most of the cases are in the Moncton health zone while Fredericton, Saint John and Miramichi are also seeing cases. She said the Saint John cases are primarily men.
Sixty-five per cent of the male cases identified themselves as heterosexual.
Russell said the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in a smaller number of people getting tested last year, but more people may be willing to get tested as the province reopens.
She pointed out STIs can have “lasting effects” on a person’s health, including infertility, and that getting tested and treated will help prevent further complications and stop transmission to someone else.
“Nobody wants to be faced with problems with fertility that can be prevented,” Russell said, adding that the number of cases among women has increased considerably since 2020.
“That prevention has to be, you either wear a condom or get tested regularly.”
Anybody who believes they may have been exposed to an infection should consult their doctor or contact a public health office, even if there are no symptoms.