The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 16, 2014

Blue Earth County maintains high STD ranking

By Robb Murray
rmurray@mankatofreepress.com

---- — This is one top spot you'd rather not keep. In the latest statistics released regarding sexually transmitted diseases, Blue Earth County retained its spot near the top of the rankings.

The county falls just behind the metro-area counties of Hennepin and Ramsey on chlamydia rates. Ramsey claimed the top spot with 548 chlamydia cases per 100,000 people while Hennepin has 500. Blue Earth County is third with 473.

The most recent numbers are part of a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health that shows STDs in general increased 10 percent from 2012 to 2013.

"Untreated STDs can have serious health consequences," Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said in a statement issued Wednesday. "Testing, diagnosing and treating these diseases in their early stages will prevent long-term health problems and slow their spread. Since most STDs don't show symptoms, it's important for sexually active people to get tested each year or when involved with a new partner."

According to the state, there were 23,133 reportable cases in Minnesota last year, an increase from 2012's 21,465 cases. In 2011 there were 19,547. Reportable STDs in Minnesota include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

Each year the STD with the highest rate in Minnesota is chlamydia, which was up 4 percent. Chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2013 with 18,724 cases. There were 18,048 in 2012. Most cases occurred in teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. Nearly one in three cases occurred in greater Minnesota.

There were 303 cases of chlamydia in Blue Earth County last year. Nicollet County saw 51 cases (for a rate of 156). The only area counties that come close to Blue Earth are Watonwan with a chlamydia rate of 268, and Waseca's 235.

The state says gonorrhea was up 26 percent statewide with 3,872 cases reported in 2013 compared to 3,082 in 2012. Primary and secondary syphilis cases were up up 64 percent with 193 cases in 2013 compared to 118 in 2012. New syphilis infections continued to be centered in the Twin Cities area and among males, the report says, "particularly men who have sex with men."