Syphilis is Back: Rising incidence in USA, Australia

Recent increases in reported cases of syphilis in the USA and Australia demonstrate a rise in incidence of this sexually transmitted disease.

The Douglas County Health Department of Omaha is once again, urging sexually active people to get tested routinely.

In 2013, health officials of the Douglas County Health Department saw a 275 percent increase of syphilis cases that were reported.

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

“What is interesting actually is that nationwide we have seen an increase about two years ago,” Dr. Pour continued. “We are just a little bit behind that trend.”

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

In Victoria, Australia, the number of syphilis cases notified in 2013 were up 42 per cent on 2012 and 126 per cent on 2010, with a total of 663 reported cases. Around half of the reported cases were in HIV-positive men, and a significant proportion of those cases were reinfections.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease that is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore, occurs mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus or the rectum. It can also occur on the lips, mouth, eyes, palms of hands and bottom of the feet.

Professor Kit Fairley from Alfred Health, Australia told the Star Observer despite the overall increase in syphilis rates the proportion of infections among HIV-positive men reflected the norm.

A rise in syphilis rates is a particular public health concern due to its relationship to HIV transmission. A person with syphilis is more likely to both contract and transmit HIV, but Fairley said researchers were unclear of the exact reasons for this.




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