Thursday, April 17, 2014
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More than 60 percent of the 20-somethings were women, who risk infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain if the disease goes untreated, Sears said.
The highest number of cases was reported this year in Androscoggin (189) and Cumberland (115) counties, where a public education campaign will be targeted.
More women contracted the disease in Androscoggin County and more men got it in Cumberland County, Sears said.
Gonorrhea is transmitted by sexual contact. A baby can contract the disease from its mother during childbirth.
The highest infection rates are reported among teenagers, young adults and African Americans, according to the federal CDC.
Symptoms for men include burning during urination, penile discharge and painful or swollen testicles.
Women may have similar burning and discharge, plus vaginal bleeding between periods, but many experience no signs of infection.
If left untreated, gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints and become life-threatening.
Studies have shown that having untreated gonorrhea also increases a person's risk of getting or transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to the federal CDC.
Health officials recommend using latex condoms, getting tested, limiting partners and having sex only with people who have been tested and cleared.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: