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STDs on the rise in Butte county

Sarah Strausser

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Lisa Almaguer, Communications Manager at Butte County Health Department, provides insight on sexually transmitted infections in light of recent statistics. Photo credit: Sarah Strausser

According to the Butte County Health Department, the number of confirmed cases of gonorrhea in Butte County in 2014 alone was 300. The numbers from 2015 are not in yet, but according to experts, they are going to be even higher.

Lisa Almaguer, Communications Manager at Butte County Health Department, said the average age of reported cases align with the average age of students. Additionally, these diseases are prevalent because many people may not know they have them.

“Many young people do not know they have the diseases and do not do anything to treat them before spreading them to others,” she said.

Additionally, the number of reported syphilis cases went from 2 cases in 2014 to 12 cases in 2015. This puts syphilis and gonorrhea as sexually transmitted infections on the rise in Butte County.

What is the difference?

The difference between the two diseases may be hard to spot at first. The biggest issue with both diseases is that there can be no symptoms for a very long period of time, according to Almaguer.

“People may think syphilis is a different disease at first,” she said. “It can show itself through symptoms as common as cold sores and rashes.”

Syphilis can be treated with a shot and is not deadly, but can stay with you for the rest of your life if left untreated, Almaguer said.

Gonorrhea, on the other hand, may be even harder to spot. Gonorrhea symptoms include pain in the pelvic area, pain during urination, swelling and abnormal discharge. Although the disease is not deadly, if left untreated, gonorrhea can cause women and men to become sterile, meaning they are unable to have children later in life.

Where to get tested

There are a number of options for students to get tested at little to no cost:

  • Butte County Health: The department has two clinics in Butte County, one of which is just a five-minute walk from Chico State’s campus. The clinics feature complete confidentiality and bilingual practitioners to help students of all backgrounds. The Butte County Health clinics see patients every day for STI checks and appointments are quick and painless. These clinics are a great option for students on a budget because they are most often able to work with students at very little to no cost, Almaguer said.
  • Chico State Student Health Center: The Chico State Health Center tests students with confidentiality. Parents can not receive confidential information unless they have specific student logins and passwords.
  • Gynecologists: For students who prefer a more personal experience, there are dozens of certified gynecologists in the Chico area that provide services to students.


According to Almaguer, prevention of diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis is crucial.

Condoms are one of the most easily accessible forms of protection against diseases, she said. is a website students can visit to input their location and see where the closest place to get free condoms is.

“We respect you more for coming in and getting yourself tested,” Almaguer said. “When young people are choosing to have sex, they need to be picky. These diseases are out there and they can affect you for the rest of your life.”

Sarah Strausser can be reached at [email protected] or @strausser_sarah on Twitter.

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One Response to “STDs on the rise in Butte county”

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STDs on the rise in Butte county