Syphilis cases surging in Arkansas, especially among women
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The number of Arkansas women diagnosed with syphilis in the last few years has nearly tripled.
The Arkansas Department of Health reported Monday that overall number cases of the sexually transmitted infection increased by 167 percent from 592 in 2017 to 1,482 in 2021.
The number of cases among women of reproductive age increased 285 percent, the ADH said.
“Syphilis among pregnant women is especially a concern due to the potential of congenital syphilis,” the ADH reported.
The state saw a 254 percent increase in congenital syphilis cases between 2017 and 2021. Nine babies died before birth. Of those, five died in 2021.
Of the counties in Arkansas, Jackson saw the highest cases of early syphilis with 29 versus about a 174 percent rate per 100,000 population.
The ADH encourages residents to seek testing and treatment, saying that syphilis can be treated by using a doctor-prescribed medication.
Local health units across the state provide testing for syphilis and other STIs at no cost. For a list of health units and hours of operation, click here.
Syphilis can cause “serious health problems if it is not treated,” the ADH warned. “There are different signs and symptoms associated with each stage, ranging from open sores, rash, and flu-like symptoms to long-term damage to the heart, brain, and other organs.”
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