Health officials in Salt Lake County have reported a “alarming” eight hundred percent spike in female syphilis cases, a sexually transmitted infection.
The majority of Syphilis Cases were formerly discovered in men, but now they are now found in women and women who are fertile, according to Lynn Beltran, the Salt Lake County Health Department’s epidemiology supervisor.
“Congenital syphilis is a much more serious condition that affects babies,” the speaker stated. “It’s highly likely that the brain damage sustained is irreversible. Infants may die suddenly as a result of it, or some may never leave the hospital.
There would have been one to three female syphilis infections annually in Salt Lake County prior to 2021. The county had about thirty last year.
The Health Department has seen well over 300 instances this year and is on track to surpass 400 cases by the end of the year. The overall number of STI cases was 227 last year. Men are also becoming more likely to catch them.
According to the health department, the rate of sickness among women in Salt Lake County increased by 800% between 2018 and 2022.
Eighty-nine percent of those incidents were women in the 15–44 age range.
Extending the data to include all residents of Salt Lake County, not just women, officials state that between 2018 and 2022, the disease climbed by 65 percent in total.
Officials withheld data about the precise number of cases that Utah’s most populous county has seen.
The majority of women who get syphilis are of childbearing age, which raises the danger of neonatal syphilis in the community, according to officials, who described the statistics as particularly worrying.
Pregnant women who have syphilis run the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. If their surviving child is not treated appropriately, they may develop long-term health problems like blindness and hearing.
“We saw our first case of syphilis in a newborn since 2008 in 2022,” SLCoHD executive director Dr. Angela C. Dunn stated. “We can prevent newborns from suffering by ensuring women have affordable, convenient access to syphilis testing and treatment, as well as appropriate prenatal care. Newborn syphilis is particularly regrettable because it is entirely preventable.”
According to birth doula Solveig Christianson, syphilis is not always a sexually transmitted virus that women are tested for.
“Most locations only have free or reasonably priced gonorrhoea or chlamydia testing, and I don’t think many people ever consider testing for syphilis, so I do ask my customers whether they’ve had a full panel,” the woman stated. “I worry that the treatment that women are receiving isn’t enough to slow this number because we know that women’s bodies aren’t treated and researched as equally.” “Any disease increasing in women’s bodies is horrifying.”
Given that the new data is consistent with the nationwide increase, epidemiologists are not entirely surprised by it.
According to Beltran, “people are moving to Utah and Salt Lake County or travelling there and bringing infection with them.” “I believe that to be among the main causes of the rise.”
According to her, several states have linked the rise in infections to injectable drug usage and needle sharing.
Beltran declared, “I do want people to get screened regularly.” “Talk to your suppliers about these matters. use of condoms as well. Condoms will be a very useful tool for preventing the spread of infection from person to person.
According to her, signs of syphilis might include patchy hair loss, strange skin conditions like blisters, rashes, and pimples, as well as loss of vision and hearing.
The data from Utah was revealed a few days after the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention described the nationwide data on growing infant syphilis cases as “dire,” indicating a roughly 32 percent increase in cases over the previous year.
According to the new data, 88 percent of this year’s cases were caused by inadequate treatment and testing for pregnant women having the disease, with communities of colour being disproportionately affected.
In order to cure syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, testing is essential. Antibiotics can be used to treat the illness, but the longer it goes untreated, the more serious it may become.