Navajo Nation Dealing With Outbreak of Syphilis

A serious outbreak of syphilis on the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona has been confirmed by health officials. The STD coordinator for the tribe's social hygiene branch, Larry Foster, said there are eight confirmed cases in the Gallup area and two more near Shiprock so far this year. "I'd say every week there are new cases," said Dr. Jonathan Iralu, infectious disease specialist for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

The outbreak on the reservation since January 2001 likely can be traced to people from cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Iralu said. His agency recorded 34 cases in each of the last two years, nine in 2000 and two in 1999.

Iralu said his agency wants New Mexico and CDC to double the size of the tribe's social hygiene program and related funding.

Health officials are trying to prevent the spread of the disease through community education and outreach efforts. Foster said Wednesday there are eight social hygiene workers spread across the reservation and agreed that more help is needed to fight the outbreak.

Back to other CDC news for March 27, 2003

Previous Updates