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Syphilis cases on the rise in Hillsborough County | Health

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Syphilis cases on the rise in Hillsborough County
Health, News, People
Syphilis cases on the rise in Hillsborough County

Tampa, Florida- The Hillsborough County Health Department (HCHD) recently notified local physicians and the community that the number of cases of syphilis infections in Hillsborough County has risen nearly 65% since this time last year. 

So far this year, 126 cases of Infectious and early latent Syphilis have been reported, when during this same time period last year, 85 cases were reported, saiys HCHD in a release. 

What is Syphilis?

The HCHD says, "Syphilis is spread by intimate contact with an infected partner. Left untreated, it can lead to severe disease and even death. Studies indicate a 2 to 5 times increased risk for transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in the presence of syphilis. Syphilis may also be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her baby. These infants are at risk of lifelong disabilities and death."

What are the symptoms?

"In the initial stage, a sore might be visible in the genital area or the mouth (usually painless).  In the second stage, a rash on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet, moist lesions in the mouth, and/or unexplained hair loss may develop. When sores and lesions are present, they are extremely infectious, and intimate contact with them should be avoided.  Early syphilis can include periods of "latency" with no outward signs or symptoms.

Individuals experiencing these symptoms, or who have experienced them in the past should see their physician or local clinic for testing and treatment," the HCHD release ecplains.

Who can get Syphilis?

"The demographics for the cases reported so far indicate the greatest at risk tend to be males (93% of the cases versus 7% females), Caucasian (53%) or African-American (41%), men who have sex with men (MSM) 77%, versus 23% heterosexuals, and between the ages of 18-38 years old.  Additionally, 40% of reported Syphilis cases involve a person co-infected with HIV."

How can you prevent getting Syphilis?

"The best way to prevent syphilis is not to have sex with an infected partner. Therefore, it is important to know your partner's syphilis status," said Dr. Douglas A. Holt, Director of the HCHD in the realse. 

Proper use of a latex condom can help protect against acquired HIV, syphilis and a number of other sexually transmitted diseases. Syphilis can be detected through a simple blood test at a physician's office or health clinic."

How can you treat Syphilis?

"Syphilis can be cured in its early stages with a single intramuscular injection of penicillin. Additional doses are needed to treat someone who has had syphilis for longer than a year.

Several local health centers provide free or low cost screening, diagnosis and treatment services.

The Hillsborough County Health Department also provides these services.  For more information on local low cost health centers or for the Hillsborough County Health Department's STD Clinic hours and fees, visit www.hillscountyhealth.org, or call 813-307-8064."

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