Syphilis spike in Alaska, Dept. Health & Social Services warns
The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is warning of a spike in syphilis throughout the state.
So far in 2018, there have been 22 cases in Alaska, according to DHSS. That's more than any cases reported in the last three years.
The Center for Disease Control says there was a 17 percent rise in syphilis nationally from 2015 to 2016. Most of those cases were here in Anchorage -- men under the age of 30.
Syphilis can be easy to cure, but the manager of the department's STD program says people need to get checked regularly.
"It's an infection that is curable with the proper medication," said Susan Jones, HIV/STD program manager of the Department of Health and Social Services. "Syphilis is complicated. It has infectious stages within about the first year of infection, then it goes internal in the body and you may not transmit it to somebody else but it can still damage you."
The department also says there's a high rate of co-infection of HIV with syphilis.
Five of the 22 Alaskans infected this year also now have HIV. That's almost a quarter of the patients.
According to DHSS, some of the first signs of syphilis are painless lesions that appear within three weeks of infection. Later, symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, fever and hair loss.
For more information, read the Alaska Public Health Advisory document below.
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