Southwest District Health officials note the number of reported cases of syphilis remains high in its six-county region in the wake of Central District Health (CDH) declaring an outbreak of syphilis in Public Health District 4 last week.
Southwest District Health declared an outbreak of syphilis in 2021 after case numbers showed a 5-fold increase between 2018 and 2021. In 2018, SWDH identified 14 syphilis infections. In 2021, SWDH saw the number of reported cases grow to 70, the highest in SWDH reported history. In 2022, SWDH continued to have higher than historical number of infections with a total of 64 syphilis cases reported.
“Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have serious health consequences if left undetected and untreated.” said Ricky Bowman, SWDH Public Health Preparedness and Epidemiological Response (PHEPER) Manager. “This continued increase in reported case numbers shows the need for increased awareness of the potential for syphilis transmission among all ages and populations,”
Symptoms of syphilis can include sores, rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Some people with syphilis experience no symptoms. If left untreated, syphilis can cause vision or hearing loss as well as other neurological complications.
In addition, pregnant individuals should consider the risk of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a pregnant person with syphilis passes the infection to the unborn baby. Congenital syphilis can result in stillbirth, early infant death or long-term health problems for the child. All pregnant individuals should be screened for syphilis at their first prenatal appointment and potentially again before delivery to ensure there is no risk of congenital syphilis.
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