‘Outbreak’ of sexually transmitted diseases on University of Limerick campus

The university confirmed to the Limerick Leader that 14 cases of gonorrhoea are “associated with the campus".

The University of Limerick has issued a warning to their student body following an outbreak of Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia on campus.

The university confirmed to the Limerick Leader that 14 cases of gonorrhoea are “associated with the campus”, following an email that was circulated to students on Wednesday morning, warning of an outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases on campus.

The email read: “The Student Health Centre has been notified that there is an outbreak of Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia on campus.  These are sexually transmitted diseases as a result of unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex.

“It is possible to have these conditions without having any type of symptoms.”

Dr Ronan Ryder, Medical Director at the Student Health Centre, UL, warned in the email that “if you have had unprotected sex or have any concerns we would strongly advise you to contact the Student Health Centre or your G.P.”

The Student Health Centre confirmed that it will provide investigations and treatment on site.

Under HSE guidelines, the cases that have been reported on campus in the last two weeks — approximately 14 — constitute as an outbreak.

Director of Student Services Dr Bernadette Walsh stated that this year the Student Health Centre had been proactively screening for STIs and that this may account for the increased levels of detection.

“According to the most up-to-date figures that we have access to, there have been 97 cases of gonorrhoea in counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary during 2016. 14 of these are associated with this campus, which consists of approximately 15,000 students”, she said.

“We have taken the proactive step, working closely with the HSE, of sending out a strongly-worded message to our student community alerting them to this public health issue because we take the wellbeing of our students very seriously.

“The health of all students is paramount. Therefore, we would advise any student who may have a concern about any element of their mental or physical health to seek appropriate medical treatment.”

The Limerick Leader stated that the university confirmed it was “working closely with the HSE” following the identification of an increase in the number of students presenting with gonorrhoea and/or chlamydia to the UL Student Health Centre.

“As is best practice, UL has rolled out an awareness campaign contacting every student directly”, the statement read.  

“In accordance with HSE protocols students are being urged to present to the STI and/or the GP clinics run by the UL Student Health Centre should they have concerns with regard to any element of their health and to get the necessary treatment.

“All students who present are currently being seen with or without an appointment and UL will continue to work closely with the HSE to ensure all awareness and treatment protocols are fully adhered to.”

This news follows a report released by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in October, outlining preliminary data for the first six months of 2016. It stated that the number of cases of HIV, syphillis and gonorrhoea are all rising in Ireland.

It stated that there has been a 50 per cent increase in syphilis and a 30 per cent increase in HIV cases in 2015. The latest data for 2016 shows that gonorrhoea rates in men have risen by 63 per cent.

Hayley Halpin

Photo credit: digitalassess

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