Syphilis Cases Rise Across Iowa
August 2, 2006
Iowa Department of Public Health officials recently reported an increase in confirmed syphilis cases, with 12 new infections through July 1 compared to 15 cases for all of last year. There is no particular reason for the increase, and the cases are not geographically clustered. Most infections were transmitted heterosexually, said Nicole Peckumn, an IDPH spokesperson.
"Unfortunately, it's a mobile disease ... and if [people] travel from one community to the next it can spread," said Peckumn. Another problem is that the signs and symptoms of syphilis -- which often begins with a painless, open sore on the genitals, lips or mouth where the person came into sexual contact with the bacteria -- can be confused with other diseases, Peckumn said. Practicing safe sex reduces the risk of a person contracting syphilis and other STDs, she added.
In the past 90 days, less than 10 suspected syphilis cases have been seen by Cerro Gordo County health officials. The northern county typically sees no syphilis cases, said Betty Krones, a county disease prevention specialist. However, Peckumn said the county had not yet reported the cases to the state, perhaps because they were only suspected cases.