Southwest District Health officials say syphilis cases remain high


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Health officials in the Southwest Region noted that the number of reported cases of syphilis remained high in the Six Counties region in the wake of The County Health Center (CDH) declares an outbreak of syphilis in public health district 4 last week.


Southwest District Health declared a 2021 syphilis outbreak after case numbers showed a 5-fold increase between 2018 and 2021. In 2018, the Foundation for Health Care and Social Development identified 14 cases of syphilis. In 2021, the Hospital for Healthcare and Social Development saw the number of reported cases rise to 70, the highest in the institution’s reported history. In 2022, the Healthcare and Social Development Hospital continued to have a higher number of historical infections with a total of 64 reported cases of syphilis.

“Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have serious health consequences if left undetected and untreated.” said Ricky Bowman, director of Public Health Preparedness and Epidemic Response (PHEPER) at SWDH. “This continued increase in the numbers of reported cases demonstrates the need to raise awareness of the potential for transmission of syphilis among all ages and populations,”

Symptoms of syphilis can include sores, rashes, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Some people infected with syphilis do not have any symptoms. Left untreated, syphilis can cause vision or hearing loss as well as other neurological complications.

In addition, pregnant women should consider the risk of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a pregnant woman with syphilis transmits the infection to the fetus. Congenital syphilis can lead to stillbirth, early infant death, or long-term health problems for the baby. All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis at their first prenatal appointment and possibly again before delivery to ensure there is no risk of congenital syphilis.

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