County Sees Rise in Syphilis Cases | Local News
Syphilis cases have increased throughout Missouri, including Jefferson County.
From 2015 to 2021, the county saw a 760% increase in syphilis cases, the Jefferson County Health Department reported.
The county had five syphilis cases in 2015, four in 2016, 19 in 2017, 23 in 2018, 25 in 2019, 27 in 2020 and 43 in 2021, said Brianne Zwiener, public information officer for the Department of Jefferson County Health.
Zwiener said one of the cases in 2020 and another in 2021 were cases of congenital syphilis, meaning a pregnant person passed it on to the child.
“That’s why it’s really important, not just for people who are obviously sexually active, but even pregnant women should double-check and make sure they get tested just to be safe,” he said. she stated.
By the end of May this year, the county had recorded 17 cases of syphilis, Zwiener said.
The state saw a 259% increase in syphilis cases between 2015, when 554 cases were reported, and 2021, when there were 1,989 cases, according to the Department of Health and Senior Citizen Services. Missouri.
The DHSS issued a health advisory in February warning Missouri residents of rising syphilis cases.
In 2021, a total of 63 cases of congenital syphilis were reported in the state, according to reports from St. Louis and St. Louis County Health Departments.
Congenital syphilis can be dangerous to a fetus, causing miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths, Zwiener said.
“Babies born with congenital syphilis may have deformed bones, severe anemia, enlarged liver and spleen, jaundice, brain and nerve problems, meningitis and skin rashes,” she said. .
Treatment for congenital syphilis is available before birth and right after birth.
What to look for
Zwiener said syphilis has four stages – primary, secondary, latent and tertiary.
“The primary stage is just a kind of first stage; you may notice sores, usually around the genital area, lips or mouth. They can be painless,” she said.
In the secondary stage, a person may have a rash, sores, fever, fatigue and headaches, Zwiener said.
She said treatment for the secondary stage is extremely important because the latent stage has no symptoms.
“If you haven’t treated it, that doesn’t mean it’s gone,” Zwiener said. “It can still stay in your body for years.”
The last stage doesn’t always develop, but it can cause damage to internal organs, Zwiener said. She said it can cause eye pain, blindness, hearing loss, constant ringing or ringing in the ears, dizziness and lightheadedness.
Zwiener said the Health Ministry offers testing and treatment for syphilis, as well as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis A, B and C.
“Prevention is the key,” she said. “If you are sexually active, getting tested regularly is always a great option.”
Zwiener said sexually active people are encouraged to get tested for STDs every three to six months and at least once a year for HIV.
She said people can go to any of the health department offices to get tested, but appointments are strongly encouraged.
Zwiener said everyone should educate themselves about safe sex practices.
“Call your health care provider, call the health department, talk to someone you trust who will give you information about STDs, because sometimes there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she said. . “Using condoms, practicing safe sex, having conversations with your sexual partners, keeping up to date with STD testing are all great ways to limit and prevent exposure to STDs.”
Zwiener said the Department of Health’s Right Time Initiative offers contraceptive and educational resources to sexually active people.
She said condoms are also offered free of charge at all health department offices.
Testing appointments or other Department of Health resources can be accessed by calling 636-797-3737 or visiting the Hillsboro office, 204 Main Street; Arnold’s office, 1818 Lonell Road; or the High Ridge office, 5684 Hwy. PP. The Hillsboro and Arnold offices are open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The High Ridge office is only open on Wednesdays.