Why the United States appears to be suffering from a rash of deadly gonorrhea outbreaks

. According to information from Medical College of Wisconsin microbiologist Barbara Reeve:

The increase in cases in both countries appears to be related to localized under-reporting for several years in Norway and Denmark, specifically with respect to the former.

A recent study published in The Lancet and featured in the Washington Post suggests a dramatic rise in the number of people infected with the same or related bacteria in the southern United States over the past three decades. The spike, the authors argue, is evidence that under-reporting of gonorrhea cases is worse in the Southern United States than elsewhere in the world.

Dr. Kathleen Harrison, executive director of Washington State’s Division of STD Control, says that until the National Institute of Health-funded research on the regional difference was published, the main figure reported in the draft recommendation was that, over the past three decades, total incidents of gonorrhea increased by 50 percent, from about 60,000 cases to 90,000 cases.

Officials in the United States reported more than 310,000 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2016, an increase of 39 percent from 2012.

The data in the Lancet study and other research suggests that current under-reporting of gonorrhea, not changes in infection rates, is driving the sharp increase in the prevalence of gonorrhea in Southern states.

By contrast, cases in other parts of the country show declines.

“Local cases are different. They have fewer complications,” Harrison said.

“The declines are more drastic than the regional increases,” Reeve said.

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