Public health nurses in Ohio's Ross County Health District are still working on their communicable disease report for the year 2009, but it looks as though there's nothing new under the sun. Once again, the sexually transmitted disease (STD) known as Chlamydia will be topping the list for the communicable disease that is most commonly reported in this area. The disease has topped the chart for the past several years.
Most Common STD
If you think Ross County is an exception, think again. Chlamydia is now the most common STD found in the United States. While the symptoms tend to be mild, Helen Ricketts, an infectious disease nurse for Ross County says that chlamydia can cause serious complications for women if left untreated. "The bacteria that causes chlamydia infects the cervix and the urethra, and the symptoms it causes are sometimes so mild they go unnoticed, especially in men," said Ricketts. "But in women, over time the infection can spread to the fallopian tubes, causing serious damage to the reproductive organs."
Silver Lining: Treatment For Chlamydia
Ricketts says that if women fail to receive treatment for chlamydia, they may develop chronic pelvic pain, and worse yet, infertility. The silver lining for Ross County is that the count is down a bit from 191 in 2008 to 180 cases in 2009. It still remains in the lead for communicable diseases in the area, however.
Hepatitis C was second on the list of common communicable diseases for the county, though this figure has undergone a significant drop. There were 80 reported cases in 2009, and this figure has gone down from 135 cases in 2008.
Not Surprising: High Rates For Chlamydia
Officials comment that the high rates for chlamydia and hepatitis C aren't really surprising. No vaccines have yet been made available to prevent these conditions. What did surprise officials was the growing hold of pertussis (whooping cough) in the county. In 2008 there were only 7 cases, but in 2009, there were 29 confirmed cases of the contagious disease. Kathy Wakefield, the director of nursing for the district commented, "Unfortunately, that seems to be the trend across the nation. There is a vaccine, but many parents are choosing to not have their children vaccinated."
Of course, while a vaccine for chlamydia doesn't yet exist, it is easy to prevent STD's by having responsible sex with one partner and through the diligent use of condoms.