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Mar 7, 2013 8:38 PM by Jacqui Heinrich, jheinrich@koaa.com

Students claim dozens of chlamydia infections at Sierra High, district denies it

Rumors of a widespread chlamydia outbreak at Sierra High School in Colorado Springs have students and parents talking.

"I know that there's 51 cases of chlamydia right now and we had a presentation today talking about it," sophomore Kionna Washpun told News 5. "A lot of people at our school are sexually active and they're not using protection nowadays."

District officials say it's not true. They sent us a statement reading: "Sierra High School officials have not had cases of chlamydia reported to them, but have received many questions from their students about STI's and chlamydia in particular."

According to data News 5 obtained from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, it's unlikely that there are no cases of chlamydia within the school. "It averages out to about 1 in 5 people in this age range," says Pediatrician Dr. Jeremy Jarecke of Alliance Urgent Care & Family Practice in Colorado Springs.

State Health Department data shows infections among high school kids aged are almost as high as in young adults; rates are climbing faster in that age group than any other, and it's much more prevalent among girls than boys. "It used to be a sexually transmitted infection that we would see more in the young adults, 20s to 30s, but has gotten much more common in the lower age ranges," Dr. Jarecke says.

Doctors say that's because chlamydia is a silent disease; most people who have it never show symptoms and pass it on to partners unknowingly. Accordingly, the number of infections are much higher than the Health Department reports-- so there's likely more than 1 in 5 infected students at Sierra High.

"Up to half of chlamydia cases go undiagnosed. I would expect that the number of chlamydia cases in the county is higher than what would be reported by the health department," Dr. Jarecke says.

Doctors say with infections growing in younger and younger kids, it's important for parents to arm their children with information and get them tested at an earlier age.

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