Onondaga County sees more than triple cases of syphilis; people at risk invited to be tested

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Syracuse, NY – Onondaga County is seeing a significant increase in syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Public health officials say people who may have been exposed should get tested.

The county has registered 95 cases so far this year, more than triple the number of cases reported in 2020, according to the Onondaga County Health Department.

Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.

“It is important to get tested and receive treatment. The sooner you are diagnosed and start your treatment, the less likely you are to pass syphilis to your partners, ”said Dr Indu Gupta, county health commissioner.

Most of the increase in new cases is among non-Hispanic black and white men, ages 16 to 69, with a history of male-to-male sexual contact. The most common age group is the mid-thirties. Some of those infected are also diagnosed with HIV and gonorrhea. The department said the number of women diagnosed with syphilis has also increased in recent years.

Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a syphilis sore, 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 the 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. The ministry advised pregnant women at risk 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.

Cases of syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases have increased across the country. Some experts attribute this spike in part to the proliferation of mobile dating apps that make it easier to find sex partners.

Anyone who thinks they have been exposed should call their health care provider.

Onondaga County Health Department STD Center can provide testing and treatment. Appointments can be made by calling (315) 435-3236.

James T. Mulder covers health and higher education. Do you have a tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or [email protected]

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