Nevada ranked number one in U.S. for syphilis cases
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - When our state ranks number one--it can be cause for celebration. But not in this case. Nevada ranks first in the number of Syphilis cases reported each year.
“It is not a surprise we’ve had as a state we’ve had an issue with Syphilis since 2005 when there was a first outbreak in Las Vegas,” says Jennifer Howell, Washoe County Health District Sexual Health Program Coordinator. “We waited for it to come here, and we prepared for that. And in 2013 the cases started increasing in Washoe County where to the point we called it an outbreak,” she says.
Howell says there’s not one reason for the number of Syphilis cases here in Nevada. She says most of the patient are male, half of those men report as being bi-sexual or gay.
Of the women who pass the disease on to their unborn child, Howell says most do not get prenatal care, they may be homeless and have substance abuse problems particularly with meth. These women may simply drop-in to emergency room to deliver their babies.
The first warning sign of the disease is a painless open sore called a chancre.
“It could be in the mouth, the rectum, it could be in the vagina. somewhere on the penis where no one is looking,” she says.
Howell says this is the phase where the disease it passed on to others. As time goes on, the patient is no longer contagious. But the disease is now doing internal damage.
This past legislative session she says some significant bills became law which she hopes can decease the incidence of Syphilis in our state. One bill increases testing for the disease during all phases of pregnancy. Another bill offers testing of HIV and STD for patients 15-to-64 years of age.
Caught in its early stages, Syphilis can be treated and the chances of spreading the disease to others can be lessened as well.
Washoe County Health District offers free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, contact 775-232-4913 for more information.
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