State officials: Gonorrhea infections on pace to rise 22% over 2019

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Gonorrhea infections are on the rise in Michigan, state officials said Tuesday.

As of Oct. 31, this year's cases of the sexually transmitted disease in the state have surpassed 2019's total of gonorrhea infections —18,264 — according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials with the agency said the state is on pace for a 22% increase of reported gonorrhea cases for 2020.

The increase "is even more alarming as it is likely an underestimate of the actual burden of disease due to decreased testing for sexually transmitted diseases during the pandemic," the department said in a statement.

They also said adding to the problem is a national shortage of collection kits and laboratory supplies used to test for gonorrhea.

“A shortage of testing supplies during a significant statewide increase in cases presents an alarming potential for a host of negative health outcomes for (Michiganians),” Joneigh Khaldun, the department's chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said in a statement. “Because laboratory testing is challenging at this time, it is imperative that medical providers continue to clinically diagnose and treat suspected cases of gonorrhea to slow the spread in our state.” 

Officials also said understanding the risks for infection, consistently and correctly using condoms, reducing the number of sexual partners and abstaining from sex are all effective measures for combating the disease.

Anyone who is sexually active and experiencing pain when urinating, increased discharge, soreness or vaginal bleeding between menstrual cycles should consult a healthcare provider.

Last year, Wayne County reported the state's highest number of gonorrhea infections with 7,219, according to the state health department. Kent County had the second highest with 1,287 infections followed by Oakland County with 1,281 cases and Macomb County with 1,171.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez