Number of People Infected with Syphilis in Florida Dramatically Increases

by on November 16th, 2010
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Statistics show people living in the area along the I-4 corridor in Florida may be infected with syphilis at a higher rate than previous years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease having many different symptoms resembling other diseases. The CDC’s website states, sores from syphilis are primarily found on the external genitals, vagina, anus, mouth or in the rectum. A body rash and hair loss also characterizes syphilis. If left untreated, the disease may affect the brain, damage other internal organs and could also lead to paralysis, blindness and dementia. Not only can syphilis be transmitted via sex partners but also from mother to child during pregnancy. Syphilis is tested via a blood test or health care providers may use a microscope to examine tissue from an infectious sore. If syphilis is suspected and diagnosed, it is then treated immediately with an injection of penicillin, an antibiotic proven to cure the disease. Sandra Zow-Johnson, STD/HIV Program Manager for the Seminole County Health Department is enforcing initiatives to educate the community about syphilis and other diseases.

In 2010, The Kaiser Family Foundation and report almost 9% of the nation’s population infected with syphilis are located in the state of Florida. A report distributed by the Seminole County Health Department showed in Seminole County alone, the infectious rate for the disease has increased over 650% since 2011. Collectively, throughout the state, there is a 14% increase in syphilis cases over last year. From this report statistics also show over 30% of those stricken with the syphilis are ages 27 and under. The Seminole County Health Department is committed to initiatives to help decrease the infectious rates among targeted areas along the I-4 corridor by educating residents about ways to prevent the disease, schedule and keep regular doctor visits if at high risk and if necessary seek treatment to cure the disease. In collaboration with the Department of Health Bureau of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention and Control in Tallahassee, the Seminole County Health Department, as well as other affected counties, is participating in a marketing campaign to raise awareness of syphilis in the community and enhance surveillance and prevention activities. The health department also has cost conscious specialty care clinics that provide confidential and anonymous STD testing and counseling as well as complete medical examinations and treatment. Part of the goal is to let the community to know that when addressing infectious diseases like syphilis, it should be expected that we identify more cases of disease as a result of intervention and prevention efforts. Florida ranks number 13 in the nation for congenital syphilis, with a rate of 7.9% per 100,000 live births as compared to the national rate of 8.7% per 100,000 live births. The National 2020 target is 9.1% per 100,000 live births. For more information call (407) 665-3291.

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