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A rare form of gonorrhea is turning up in southwest Michigan

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Cases of a rare form of gonorrhea have spiked in West Michigan, officials say. Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) is a form of gonorrhea that affects many parts of the body.

Five infected individuals have been confirmed in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. There is another possible case in Calhoun County. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and local health departments are investigating six cases.

The uncommon infection, happening in a similar time and place, caught the attention of public health workers, officials say. William Nettleton is the medical director for Kalamazoo County. He says, "What's unusual is when we have a number of cases occur at the same time and the same place. And so that's when we begin a public health investigation and we recommend steps to the public to protect themselves."

Symptoms can include fever, chills, joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Health officials urge anyone with symptoms to contact their healthcare provider.

"Our next steps are to look into relationships between cases and patients," Nettleton says. "Or, is there something unique about these gonorrhea infections."

Nettleton says there is no evidence of resistance to treatment at this time. In a press release, MDHHS says "Abstaining from sex, reducing the number of partners and consistent and correct use of condoms are all effective prevention strategies to prevent DGI and other sexually transmitted diseases."

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