“Alarming” Rise in STDs in Putnam

Health Department expresses concern

The rate of chlamydia infection reported by doctors to Putnam County health officials has jumped more than 200 percent over the past eight years, far eclipsing the rates in the state (38 percent, excluding New York City) and nation (32 percent).

“Rates are measured in number of cases per 100,000 people and while we still have lower case numbers, the rate of increase is alarming,” explained Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat, the interim commissioner of health.

In addition to chlamydia, physicians must report cases of gonorrhea and syphilis. Chlamydia and gonorrhea take a heavier toll on young people, particularly women, Nesheiwat said. Syphilis, the less common of the three but potentially fatal, has surged in recent years, particularly among men. In Putnam County, there are 10 confirmed cases so far this year, more than all the cases last year.

The good news is that all STDs — and there are quite a few, including HIV, herpes, HPV and trichomoniasis — can be prevented with the proper use of latex condoms. Unfortunately, it is possible to have an STD without any signs or symptoms and to spread it.

Primary care providers can test for STDs and prescribe antibiotic treatments. For residents who are under- or uninsured, Putnam County’s health center Open Door provides service on a sliding pay scale. The office is located at 155 Main St. in Brewster; call 845-279-6999.

The Dutchess County Health Department offers testing, diagnosis and treatment of STDs at its Family Partnership Center at 29 N. Hamilton St. in Poughkeepsie; call 845-486-3535. The services are free and confidential.

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