Indiana sees 70 percent surge in syphilis cases in one year

June 6, 2016 by Rick Callahan

Indiana's syphilis cases surged 70 percent in a single year, a state health official said Monday, urging health care providers to aggressively test patients for the sexually transmitted disease.

Indiana's primary, secondary and early latent syphilis cases rose from 297 in 2014 to 505 in 2015, the health department said.

Indiana isn't alone in seeing a spike in the bacterial disease that's spread by direct, skin-to-skin contact during unprotected sex. Several states have seen significant increases in syphilis cases during the last few years, and the national rate rose 15 percent between 2013 and 2014, said Brian Katzowitz, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of STD Prevention.

"We've seen similar trends on a state by state basis, and California is dealing with similar issues as well, with monumental increases in syphilis, so I don't think Indiana is unique in that way," he said.

About 90 percent of the nation's syphilis cases are among men. The state agency did not release data Monday on which demographic groups had been affected by the syphilis surge, and agency officials did not return messages seeking additional information. Katzowitz said that while the biggest increases in cases of the disease had been among gay and bisexual men since about 2000, in recent years there have been significant increases of syphilis among heterosexual men and women.

The increase in syphilis among heterosexual women has been accompanied by an increase in babies being born with syphilis passed onto them by their mothers, he said.

The health department is "working closely with local health officials and to make sure patients are getting tested and receive treatment," Commissioner Jerome Adams said in a statement. He also encouraged physicians and others to do a better job of educating patients about syphilis, which is curable with appropriate antibiotics but potentially deadly if not treated.

Indiana's health department issued a similar advisory about syphilis testing last fall after preliminary data showed a 53 percent increase in syphilis cases from January 2015 to early October 2015.

Beth Meyerson, the co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University, said that a recent study she conducted found that Indiana's community health centers weren't routinely screening their patients for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea or HIV.

Physicians at those clinics often don't know the medical histories and personal backgrounds of the people they're serving and therefore don't arrange for STD testing, she said.

"I'm glad the state health department put out this advisory because clinicians really listen to that," Meyerson said.

A CDC data sheet shows that during 2014, Nevada, Louisiana, Georgia and California had the nation's highest rates, with all four states reporting more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents of the disease. Nevada had the highest rate, with nearly 13 cases per 100,000.

Explore further: Syphilis infections on the rise in Europe

Related Stories

Syphilis infections on the rise in Europe

May 18, 2016
New data released in ECDC's Annual Epidemiological report show that since 2010, the overall syphilis rates have been going up across Europe, particularly among men. In 2014, the reported syphilis numbers were six times higher ...

US syphilis rate up; mostly gay and bisexual men

May 8, 2014
Health officials say syphilis has reached its highest level since 1995 with the increase all in men.

Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia rates rising for first time in years: CDC

November 17, 2015
(HealthDay)—The number of cases of three key sexually transmitted diseases increased last year for the first time since 2006, concerned U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

Sharp increase in US babies born with syphilis: CDC

November 12, 2015
(HealthDay)—As syphilis cases increase among U.S. women, doctors are seeing more babies born with the serious infection, health officials report.

Health officials warn of blinding cases of syphilis on West Coast

March 12, 2015
(HealthDay)—Health care providers on the West Coast need to look out for syphilis that can cause blindness, public health officials say.

Gonorrhoea cases continue to rise in Norway

April 29, 2016
In Norway, the number of notified gonorrhoea cases are now the highest for 25 years. Reported cases of syphilis declined slightly but are still high compared to a few years ago, according to 2015 figures released by the Norwegian ...

Recommended for you

Collaboration yields possible treatment for rare neurodegenerative disorder

October 23, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators have developed a new class of compounds that extended the lives and eased symptoms of mice with a progressive neurodegenerative human disorder. The findings appear today ...

Genetic flaw causes problems for many with hypothyroidism

October 23, 2018
With an estimated 120 million prescriptions filled each year, the thyroid medicine levothyroxine (marketed as Synthroid ) is one of the most popular prescription medicines in the United States. Most patients who suffer from ...

'Game changer' tuberculosis drug cures 9 in 10

October 22, 2018
A new treatment for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis can cure more than 90 percent of sufferers, according to a trial hailed Monday as a "game changer" in the fight against the global killer.

Consuming caffeine from coffee reduces incident rosacea

October 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Caffeine intake from coffee is inversely associated with the risk for incident rosacea, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

AI doctor could boost chance of survival for sepsis patients

October 22, 2018
Scientists have created an artificial intelligence system that could help treat patients with sepsis.

Home-based biofeedback therapy is effective option for tough-to-treat constipation

October 22, 2018
Biofeedback therapy used at home is about 70 percent effective at helping patients learn how to coordinate and relax bowel muscles and relieve one of the most difficult-to-treat types of constipation, investigators report.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.