Snohomish County sees dramatic increases in gonorrhea and syphilis

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The number of sexually transmitted diseases in Snohomish County has increased two folds over the past 5 years, health officials said Monday.

When looking at reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from 2011-2016, the Snohomish Health District reports a 40 percent increase in chlamydia, a 112 percent increase in syphilis, and a 243 percent increase in gonorrhea.

RESOURCE:  STDs in Snohomish County Briefing Paper – May 2017 (PDF)

“These increases in STD rates are not unique to Snohomish County, but we only have four disease investigators available to serve a county with close to 800,000 people,” said Jefferson Ketchel, interim administrator for the Health District. “Decreasing resources and increasing populations mean we really are in a response-only mode right now.”

In addition to a breakdown of cases by city and type, the data was segmented by demographics to help pinpoint populations most impacted. Some of the highlights included in the report:

    The briefing report not only provided a baseline of data to use moving forward, but it also evaluated roles of the Health District and community partners currently in practice and areas for increased attention. Strategic areas of focus are:

      “The new operating budget approved by the legislature provides a small down payment for essential public health services,” said Ketchel. “Unless there’s a significant restoration of public health funding, we will continue to struggle to stay ahead of the problem, let alone turn the tide on disease rates like these.”

      STDs are most commonly spread through anal, oral or vaginal sex. However, some STDs like hepatitis B and HIV can be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact by sharing needles or equipment to inject drugs. Pregnant women with STDs may also pass their infections to their babies during pregnancy, delivery or through breastfeeding. See for more information and resources