Local and Community News
Arkansas: Union County Sees Increase in Syphilis Cases
February 25, 2003
An increase of syphilis cases in Union County, Arkansas, has prompted the state Health Department to start an informational campaign and conduct field tests to stop the spread of the disease. The southern Arkansas county has recorded 17 new cases of the potentially fatal STD since Aug. 9, with six cases diagnosed since Jan. 1. Department spokesperson Ann Wright said Friday the increase does not yet qualify as an outbreak. Arkansas had 83 syphilis cases during 2002. "This is really unique right now [to Union County]," Wright said. "It's not happening anywhere else in the state like this." Union County reported six cases in 2001, when 105 cases were reported statewide.Adapted from:
The department has been distributing flyers in neighborhoods and interviewing residents who have had sexual contact with those who tested positive for syphilis. "They're going out to draw blood as opposed to waiting for people to come in," Wright said. "They're going to nightclubs and other places."
Wright said the department was trying to stop the disease with information because syphilis exhibits almost no initial symptoms. A person with primary syphilis will see only a small sore, which disappears within a few weeks whether treated or untreated. Those not treated will enter secondary syphilis, characterized by hair loss and a brownish skin rash that can appear on the palms and soles of the feet. Tertiary syphilis, which can persist for years, brings on complications including serious problems with the eyes, ears, heart, lungs and liver, as well as mental illness and neurological damage. Untreated tertiary syphilis can be fatal. Unchecked, the disease is quickly transmitted among people who have multiple sex partners.
02.21.03; Douglas Pils
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.