Early syphilis cases are up in Franklin County

A scanning electron micrograph of T. pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. CREDIT: Wadsworth Center

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus Public Health announced early syphilis cases continue to increase in Franklin County. Infectious early syphilis (ES) cases have increased by 50 percent, comparing January – June 2014 to January – June 2015. There have been more than 200 cases reported in the first half of 2015.

  • It is anticipated that by the end of 2015, data will reflect a rate increase of more than 83 percent since 2013.
  • Most cases are being diagnosed in men who have sex with men.
  • A staggering increase among females has resulted in treatment of several pregnant woman and 8 cases of congenital syphilis during 2014 and 3 cases already in 2015. Congenital syphilis is often severe, disabling, and life-threatening.

What to watch for

Symptoms of ES are often missed or misdiagnosed and can include:

  • Cutaneous lesion(s) – often painless ulcers, on genitals, anus/rectum or in/around the mout
  • Maculopapular rash – genital, body, palms of the hands/ soles of feet, scalp, face
  • Condylomata lata – raised and moist wart-like lesions in groin and perianal area, swollen lymph glands and fever
  • Meningitis, cranial neuropathies, uveitis/optic neuritis, sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus

What you can do 

  1. Increase screening: Refer to screening recommendations table. Persons of negative or unknown HIV status should also be screened for HIV.
  2. Report Cases: Syphilis is a Class B (1) reportable condition which is required to be reported by the end of the next business day. Submit reports via the Infectious Disease Reporting System (IDRS) faxed to (614) 525-8890 or call (614) 525-8888
  3. Assist with Access to Treatment: If a patient needs assistance accessing treatment, Columbus Public Health offers treatment on a sliding fee scale and no one is turned away for inability to pay. Medication can be delivered to your practice when needed.

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