Health alert: Significant increase in syphilis cases in Onondaga County
As of September 28, 2021, Onondaga County has recorded 95 cases of syphilis, more than three times the number of cases for all of 2020. This increase may impact not only individuals, but their partners as well. and unborn children in the event of pregnancy. Health Commissioner Dr Indu Gupta said: “Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be cured with antibiotics. if detected early. Syphilis may not cause symptoms initially, but will lead to very serious illness if it goes undiagnosed and untreated. Gupta urged, “It is important to get tested and treated. The sooner you are diagnosed and start treatment, the less likely you are to pass syphilis to your partners.
Most of the increase in new syphilis diagnoses is among black and non-Hispanic Caucasian males between the ages of 16 and 69 with a history of male-to-male sexual contact. The most common age group is the mid-thirties. There has also been an increase in co-diagnoses of HIV with syphilis and gonorrhea. The number of women diagnosed with syphilis has also increased in recent years.
Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a sore of syphilis (chancre), usually through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Close skin-to-skin contact, even with a condom, can still lead to syphilis, as the condom may not completely cover exposed areas. It can also be spread by kissing if there are sores of syphilis in the mouth or on the lips. A pregnant woman with syphilis can pass it on to her unborn baby, which can cause serious health problems and even death to the baby. If you are pregnant, be sure to get tested.
Signs of syphilis may include a painless sore or ulcer in the mouth or genitals, and generalized illness with fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and rash. More serious signs of syphilis can include meningitis or eye infections.
The only way to know if you have syphilis is to get tested. The test is recommended for all of the following:
- Men who have sex with men outside of a monogamous relationship
- People living with HIV
- Pregnant women
- People who engage in sex work
- People who have anonymous sex partners, including through dating apps
- People attending sexually transmitted disease clinics
- Men under 25 incarcerated in the past year
It is important that people with syphilis and their partners are tested and treated immediately to avoid long-term complications. Anyone who thinks they have been exposed should call their health care provider. If you don’t have a health care provider, the Onondaga County Health Department STD Center can provide testing and treatment. Appointments are required, please call 315.435.3236.