Charleston is synonymous with many things: church steeples, carriage rides, that famous dance, and, of course, rich history.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s now also synonymous among some in the medical community with a strain of a highly infectious sexually transmitted disease. Reporter John Bruce has details.

A report from the Department of Health and Environmental Control in South Carolina breaks down new chlamydia caes by region across the state. If you add up these numbers, nearly 28-thousand in 2015, nearly 30-thousand in 2016, and more than 31-thousand in 2017. 

That’s nearly 90-thousand new diagnoses in just 3-years.

2017 rates in the  Lowcountry hovered at just more than 1,472 cases per 100-thousand people. It has become so prevalent, researchers have now dubbed it the Charleston Strain.

Doctor Jennifer Miller says,
“Chlamydia seems to go in waves. It seems to be after the holidays., the numbers will go up and especially in the summertime. 

So what’s behind this troubling trend? 

Miller says the answer lies with Charleston and the surrounding areas.

“Charleston is kind of like Ellis Island. Everybody moves here from all over the place.
We have two military bases. We do have two colleges that are fairly populated; the Citadel and the College of Charleston. And a couple of other smaller colleges in the area.”

State health data suggests almost 90-percent of all new chlamydia cases are in people between 18 and 30 years old.

Each case is reported to county health departments.

Dr. Miller says, 
“When i do report it to DHEC in Charleston County,  they have told me over the phone that it is so prevalent here in Charleston that there is a strain known as the Charleston strain. 
It’s identified as its own strain. You aren’t going to find it in Las Vegas or LA but you will find it here in Charleston.”

Chlamydia is treatable, but waiting for test results can take up to 48 very anxious hours.