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County leads in state for syphilis case rate

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 7:23 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 7:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Jackson County leads the state with the most syphilis case rate with 174.3 cases per 100,000.

Arkansas Department of Health State Deputy Officer Dr. Naveen Patil said the increase of cases in the county may be linked to the prison screenings at the Grimes and McPherson Units in Newport.

“They screen for HIV, they screen for syphilis, they screen for sexually transmitted diseases, and I think that is what is skewing their numbers,” Dr. Patil said.

Dr. Patil added it may be the same case for Mississippi County, which ranks as number three with 129.8 cases per 100,000 and also houses a correctional facility.

The Arkansas Department of Health reported more women than men with syphilis within the last five years at a 285% increase in cases.

Dr. Patil urges people to get tested regularly, especially pregnant women, who can pass the disease onto their babies.

“Babies can die between the womb or very early at birth,” he said, “Also, children who are born with syphilis can have lifelong complications.”

Five infants died from syphilis in 2021.

The health officer mentioned local health units have been educating people about syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

He encourages prevention measures such as using protection during sex and sticking to one sexual partner.

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