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Syphilis Outbreak Update for Cuyahoga County - June 2009

104 cases of infective syphilis were reported in 2008 in the county. Case counts peaked in November 2008 and dropped in the following three months. Cleveland's rate is 2 1/2 times that of 2007. Four cases of congenital syphilis were averted due to screening.

June 2, 2009  - - Yesterday, an update on the syphilis outbreak in Cuyahoga County was presented to the Health Committee of Cleveland City Council by the Cleveland Department of Public Health. Surveillance data were provided by the Ohio Department of Health.

Click here to obtain a copy of the report.

Cases peaked in November 2008

104 cases of primary, secondary or early latent syphilis were diagnosed and reported among Cuyahoga County residents in 2008. Seventy-three cases, or 70%, were Cleveland residents, the highest number since 1999 when 82 cases were reported by CDPH.

Rates for Cleveland (8.10 per 100,000 population) are fourth among Ohio major cities, behind Akron (19.6), Columbus (15.1), and Cincinnati (13.8).

The number of cases peaked at 17 cases in November and fell in the three months following.

Before the outbreak, one to two cases are usually reported to public health officials. The outbreak is believed to have begun around July 2007.

More information on syphilis can be found at the CDC website (Click here for link.)

Preventing infection among infants

Locally, four cases of congenital syphilis were averted due to screening. Two cases occurred in Columbus. Congenital syphilis can cause neurological disorders, developmental delays, blindness, and death in newborns born with syphilis.

Youth still at high risk

In 2008, 38% of new diagnoses of infective syphilis were among youth age 14 to 24. Children as young as age 14 were reported as infected with syphilis due to sexual activity.

HIV-positive persons

Nearly have of the cases reported in 2008 were among men who have sex with other men and bisexual men. More than half of these were HIV-positive when interviewed by Disease Intervention Specialists. These are state-trained agents who investigate cases of syphilis, encourage partner notification and treatment of infected persons.

Preventive actions

Public Health officials from Shaker, Cuyahoga County and Cleveland continue their recommendations to the medical community and all health care providers to increase screening for syphilis to all sexually active persons, especially youth and pregnant females. Heterosexuals, especially African American, and all men who have sex with other men regardless of race and ethnicity should be screened at any opportunity.

The Office of HIV Services of DPH is working with all funding agencies receiving block grant and Ryan White funds to encourage all youth, sexually active persons, and HIV-positive males to use safe sex protections, regularly seek care to be screened for all sexually transmitted infections, and watch for symptoms of syphilis. Officials involved with Cleveland Municipal School District's Responsible Sexual Behavior Initiative were notified of the results.

Posted by db last modified June 02, 2009

Keywords: Children, County, Local, Maternal Infant and Child Health, Municipal, Pregnancy, STD, Safe Sex, Statistics, Teens, Women's health

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