Public health officials are calling people’s exes to warn them they might have been exposed to gonorrhea after a five-county-wide outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.
According to NY Mag, public health departments have formed an anonymous notification system to get in contact with former sexual partners of affected individuals and tell them that they might have been exposed to the increasingly drug-resistant disease.
Government workers like Anna Halloran of the Spokane Regional Health District are calling or messaging ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, one night stands, friends with benefits and even current partners with the most unnerving news ever:
“Some people cry, some people get really angry, some people don’t want to talk to me at all. A lot of people are really anxious to know who it was [who gave them the infection]. Of course, I can’t say anything whatsoever that would identify that,” Halloran told NPR.
“I feel a big sense of accomplishment when I’ve found somebody after I’ve been looking for them for weeks,” she says.
And for the sake of early detection, Anna must certainly do a fair share of stalking.
“I try phone, I try the mail,” Halloran says. She’ll try texting, Facebook, even tracking people down in person. “You know, it’s a really sensitive subject. And it’s really hard news for people to get.”
She walked NPR through the process of the average phone call:
“So I’ll ask, ‘Is this Jessica?'” Halloran says. “And then I would ask your birthday, and if that matches what I have, I would say, ‘I’m calling from the Spokane Regional Health District. And I’m calling to let you know that you may have been exposed to gonorrhea.'”
Gonorrhea is usually treatable if detected early, but tends to produce very few noticeable symptoms for quite a while before becoming dangerous enough to result in pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility.
According to NY Mag, five counties in Washington state are currently experiencing a huge rise in the STD. Some areas in Europe and Asia are even seeing drug-resistant gonorrhea.
Halloran says that, while most people want to do the right thing and tell their partners, people simply don’t have the balls to do so as studies have shown that most young couples do not reveal their sexual histories before before gettin’ it on.
“You know, I wait for the time when our numbers go down,” Halloran says. “But I have to keep thinking of what the case rates would be like if we weren’t doing this work.”
Via: NY Mag, Top Photo Credit: Phone Call via Shutterstock