Among the bacterial infections that are tracked by state health officials, sexually-transmitted diseases are the most frequently reported.
“Chlamydia definitely has the greatest number of new diagnoses, by far, compared to any other sexually-transmitted infection,” says George Walton, a program manager in the Iowa Department of Public Health.
State law requires doctors and laboratories to report confirmed cases of chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV and AIDS to the department. There were more than 11,000 cases of chlamydia confirmed in Iowa last year.
“It is relatively ease to diagnose and treat, but you have to be looking for it,” Walton says. “…The testing that we have available now is very sensitive…not nearly as many false-negatives as we saw with older testing technology.”
Chlamydia is the most common infectious disease in the United States. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for women to become pregnant. The recommended treatment now for chlamydia is a single dose of a prescription drug. The second-most prevalent sexually-transmitted disease in Iowa is gonorrhea. About 1600 cases of gonorrhea were reported in Iowa last year. Walton expects even more cases to be reported this year.
“That’s one that we’re really keeping an eye on for a number of reasons,” Walton says. “One is there’s a lot of concern with antibiotic resistance with that particular infection.”
The other most common sexually-transmitted disease in the U.S. and in Iowa is syphilis. There was a 450 percent increase in the number of new syphilis cases in Iowa in 2013. Syphilis is highly-contagious, but it can be treated with one dose of penicillin.
There were 99 cases of HIV infections diagnosed in Iowa during 2014. That was a “significant decline” of 19 percent from the year before according to Walton, but he expects the number of confirmed cases of HIV to be higher in Iowa this year.
“My guess is that it’ll be closer towards the average for the last five years,” Walton says.
Other types of infectious diseases that must be reported to state officials include any of the five strains of Hepatitis.