LIMA — Eight syphilis cases were reported in Allen County in 2012, causing some concern for the county health department.
“Several years ago, we had no cases of syphilis in the area,” said Dr. Wilfred Ellis, infectious disease specialist with the Allen County Health Department. “We still have problems with sexually transmitted diseases. Locally, with have a significant problem with the increase of syphilis, which is coming to the area and is associated with our HIV rate.”
Eight syphilis cases were reported in 2012, and two more surfaced between January and March 2013. Eight people tested positive for HIV in Allen County in 2012. Ellis said some people were infected with both diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, syphilis can cause long-term complications and/or death if it’s not adequately treated. The infection initially appears as a sore and can spread to a skin rash or mouth sore if not treated. Symptoms of late-stage syphilis, between 10 and 30 years after the infection initially enters the body, include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and dementia.
Treatment is a strong antibiotic prescribed by a doctor. There is no cure for HIV.
“Those diseases are still out there. We don’t talk much about HIV because the treatments for HIV have been outstanding to keep people alive. But it’s not a cure, and the disease is still out there and people are still getting it,” Ellis said.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are less-severe STDs but have proven an issue in the county. Between January and March, 26 gonorrhea cases and 122 chlamydia cases were reported.
Nationwide, treating all sexually transmitted disease costs $16 billion per year, according to the CDC. April marks STD Awareness Month.