Outbreak of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in Northern Alberta, Canada

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BackgroundIn January 2001 we investigated an outbreak of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in a northern region of Alberta, Canada, and here we report on the epidemiology of the outbreak.GoalThe goal was to examine the outbreak etiology and make recommendations for strengthening regional STD programs.Study DesignProvincial STD notification forms were reviewed to identify cases, and a case–control study was undertaken to identify risk factors for infection.ResultsGonorrhea was reported among 81 individuals, aged 15 to 60 years, between January 1999 and March 2001 in 8 neighboring communities. Attendance at a public bar in one community was associated with infection (P < 0.01). Cases were predominantly Aboriginal (96.3%) and aged less than 30 years (77.6%), and at least 39% of cases reported multiple sex partners. Casual partnering and extended sexual networks are believed to have influenced the spread of infection.ConclusionThis study emphasizes the importance of site-specific health interventions to effectively target at-risk individuals at high-risk locations, with preventive measures aimed at members of high-risk sexual networks. Effective interventions must ensure the availability of and access to appropriate health services for all residents of northern regions in Alberta.

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