Syphilis is Back, Health Department Urges People To Get Tested

By: Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) - The DouglasCounty Health Department is once again, urging sexually active people to gettested routinely.

In 2013, health officials sawa 275 percent increase of syphilis cases that were reported.

Dr. Adi Pour told FOX 42 Newsthat in previous years there were seven to eight, but last year there were 30.

"What is interesting actuallyis that nationwide we have seen an increase about two years ago," Dr. Pourcontinued. "We are just a little bit behind that trend."

Syphilis, a sexuallytransmitted disease that is passed from person to person through direct contactwith a syphilis sore, occurs mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus orthe rectum. It can also occur on the lips, mouth, eyes, palms of hands andbottom of the feet.

Dr. Pour said of the 30infected in 2013, 47 percent of them also tested positive for HIV, majority ofthem were men who have sex with men (MSM) and all were ages 20 to 39.

"You know, it's sad.It's a disease that we all thought we wouldn't have to talk about it anymore.Definitely I thought I wouldn't have to talk about it anymore."

The health department isworking with local bars and clubs where people who are most risk of gettingsyphilis to get the word out that they need to get tested and also protectthemselves.

"The risk is that you areinfectious and then you infect others."

While a 275 percent increaseis a large jump, Dr. Pour wanted to remind the public that 30 is a low numberfor a population of more than 400,000 people.

Symptoms of syphilis includechancre sores, skin rashes, rough, reddish brown spots on the palms of handsand the bottoms of feet, fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hairloss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches and fatigue.

According to the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention, syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages byinjecting penicillin, an antibiotic, into those who have been infected for a yearor less.

The STD can reoccur so it isimportant to follow up with a physician after one has been cured.

To avoid getting syphilis,the CDC says people should abstain from having sex, remain in long-termmonogamous relationships with a partner who has negative STD test results and/oruse latex condoms and dental dams every time you have sex.

Washing your genitals, urinatingor douching after sex will not protect you from getting syphilis.