Indiana state health officials are urging healthcare providers to educate patients about their risks of syphilis and to be aggressive about testing and treatment following a sharp increase in the number of infectious syphilis cases being reported across the state this year.


Preliminary data show 357 early syphilis cases, or those less than a year in duration, were reported between Jan. 10 and Oct. 3 of this year, a nearly 53 percent increase from the 234 diagnosed during the same period in 2014. Most cases have occurred among men who have sex with men, but heterosexual cases are also being identified. The number of cases of congenital syphilis among pregnant women also has increased.

“This is an alarming increase in the number of people being diagnosed with a preventable and curable disease,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “We are working closely with local health officials, Disease Intervention Specialists and health care providers to ensure that people are educated about their risks and receive early testing and treatment so we can stop this disease in its tracks.”

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread by direct, skin to skin contact during unprotected sex. Pregnant women who are infected can transmit it to their unborn babies.