The incidence of chlamydia, the nation's most common sexually transmitted disease, continues to rise in Niagara County.
Figures from the Niagara County Health Department last week showed that 858 cases of the disease were diagnosed last year, up from 744 in 2009. State Health Department figures indicated the county had 840 chlamydia cases in 2008 and 728 the year before that.
Of the 858 new cases last year, 344 were found in teenagers ages 15 to 19.
"Chlamydia has no signs or symptoms. People could spread it without knowing it," said Elaine Roman, the county Health Department's director of public health planning and emergency preparedness.
If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women and permanent damage to either gender's reproductive organs.
Roman believes there is more chlamydia than in the past, but she said some of the increase in the number of reported cases is attributable to more people being tested.
"There's continuous outreach," she said. "We see more people coming to free clinics in this economy."
The county Health Department operates a sexually transmitted disease and HIV clinic in the Trott Access Center, 1001 11th St., Niagara Falls, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Appointments can be made by calling 278-1900.
The county had 118 new gonorrhea cases in 2010, down from 158 the year before.
Director of Patient Services Wanda Smiley said the county Health Department knows of nine confirmed cases of syphilis last year, down from 17 in 2009.