Idaho: Syphilis Outbreak Spreads Across Treasure Valley
April 6, 2004
Health officials announced Friday that the largest known outbreak of syphilis in state history is spreading across southwestern Idaho, especially among young Hispanics.
Southwest District Health, which serves the region, has confirmed 39 adult cases and four congenital cases in infants over the past year. An additional 38 cases are under investigation, and 13 have been referred to other districts, according to officials.
"Syphilis has gotten a foothold in Canyon County and it's rapidly spreading in the western Treasure Valley," according to Gene Gunderson, director of Southwest District Health.
The outbreak began with a single case in Homedale. Officials, however, have not been able to find the common partners who are spreading the disease, which is unusual, leading to suspicions that the infected persons may be involved in drugs, gang activity, or trading sex for drugs.
The epidemic shows signs of spreading eastward, Gunderson said. "The message we're trying to get out is that it's a deadly disease but that it's easily treatable."
The health district has upped the number of employees fighting syphilis, increased staff training, and assigned case managers to pregnant women who have tested positive for syphilis, according to Jennifer Tripp, health district epidemiologist.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.