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GRANTS PASS, Ore. - A jump in the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea over the past year in rural southwestern Oregon has state and local health officials alarmed and puzzled.

Ruth Helsley, sexually transmitted disease program manager for the Oregon Health Authority, tells the Grants Pass Daily Courier the reason is unclear.

She and Josephine County medical director Dr. David Candelaria say the sudden increase may be related to an increase in methamphetamine use, which increases sex drive and lowers inhibitions.

State figures show Josephine County saw an increase of 270 percent, from 10 in 2012 to 37 in 2013. In Douglas County it went up 1,050 percent, from two cases to 23. Jackson County saw a 387 percent jump, from 31 cases to 151.

The statewide increase was 18.5 percent.

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