The number of syphilis cases across the state is on the rise and state health officials are urging healthcare providers to diligently test and educate patients.
Between Jan. 10 and Oct. 3, 357 cases of syphilis were reported. The cases are classified as “early” – meaning less than a year in duration. That’s more than a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2014.
“This is an alarming increase in the number of people being diagnosed with a preventable and curable disease,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams in a statement. “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 transmitted during unprotected intercourse and can also be transmitted to unborn babies by infected mothers. According to a release from the Indiana State Department of Health, most cases have occurred between men engaging in sexual intercourse with other men, but heterosexual cases are also reported. The number of cases of congenital syphilis among pregnant women is also on the upswing.
Early symptoms are painless sores on the genitals but if allowed to progress syphilis can cause a rash all over the body along with fever, muscle aches and weight loss. Severe cases can eventually lead to blindness, deafness and neurological complications. Untreated cases in pregnant women can cause miscarriage or stillbirth, preterm or low birth weight babies, bone deformities, deafness, seizures and more. It’s most infectious in its primary and secondary stages, but anyone with untreated syphilis of less than a year can spread the infection.
Those who test positive for syphilis are also encouraged to be tested for HIV.
For more information and to see the Center for Disease Control’s syphilis treatment guidelines click here.
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