MYNORTHWEST NEWS

An urgent plea for King County women to get tested for syphilis

Apr 18, 2023, 1:49 PM

syphilis...

Treponema pallidum is the bacterium which causes syphilis (Photo courtesy of UW Medicine)

(Photo courtesy of UW Medicine)

King County health officials are warning women under 45 to test for syphilis, especially if they haven’t tested since January 2021. 190 cases were reported last year, according to Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County, a sizable increase from the 117 cases in 2021.

The Public Health Department cited there has been a nearly 5-fold increase in syphilis in cisgender women since 2015 and a 10-fold increase from 2021 to 2022.

Deadly fungus spreading in U.S. with approximately 60% mortality

The disease can start with sores and a rash, according to health officials, and, if left untreated, syphilis can spread to the brain, leading to severe health concerns for the person infected and, if pregnant, newborns who can contract it. Congenital syphilis is a devastating disease that can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, prematurity, and long-term health outcomes in infants affected.

“The increase in syphilis in cisgender women and pregnant people suggests that syphilis may be spreading in the general population and among women in particular,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, Director of the Public Health – Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program, in a prepared statement. “Rising rates of syphilis in cisgender women and pregnant people is alarming, which is why we are recommending that most sexually active women 45 and under get tested if they haven’t had a test since 2021, and why we are asking providers to increase syphilis testing in pregnant persons.”

The spike in syphilis has been occurring nationwide, according to new CDC data, which reported that the number of cases has risen yearly since 2012 — the year this sexually transmitted infection (STI) was at a historic low.

More from Micki Gamez: Seattle mayor brings back volunteer day after successful debut

“I believe that, partially, we are not being vigilant about screening and treating pregnant women. Unfortunately, according to the CDC data, about 30% of women don’t have access to care,” Dr. Irene Stafford told PBS News. “On top of that, there’s been a certain percentage [of people] that has actually been screened for syphilis but did not get timely treatment. And lastly, there’s been a surge in cases where women have converted and become infected with syphilis during the third trimester.

Women in need of help can call the health clinic at 206-744-3590.

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here.

MyNorthwest News

Trump convention speech...

STEVE PEOPLES, JONATHAN J. COOPER and JILL COLVIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Trump: ‘The discord and division in our society must be healed’

Donald Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination on Thursday at the Republican National Convention and said the country must 'heal.'

10 hours ago

Image: A Tacoma Police Department vehicle is seen on a street....

Steve Coogan

Human finger found in Tacoma driveway IDed, returned to owner

The case of a mysterious human finger found in a Tacoma driveway earlier this month has been solved and the digit was returned to its owner.

13 hours ago

Photo: Police are looking for a Tacoma serial arsonist after a rash of fires. This photo is of a fi...

James Lynch

Tacoma police looking for serial arsonist after rash of fires endanger lives, property

Tacoma police are currently searching for a serial arsonist after a rash of fires in the area endangered lives and property.

14 hours ago

Photo: This man was arrested in connection with a Kent attempted kidnapping on July 16, 2024....

Julia Dallas

Bail set: 11-year-old girls save 6-year-old from being kidnapped in Kent

A man was arrested and bail set for allegedly trying to kidnap a 6-year-old. Fortunately, three 11-year-old girls stepped in.

15 hours ago

Photo: Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, f...

Julia Dallas

Visitors are filling downtown Seattle streets near pre-pandemic levels

Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, filling the streets at levels close to 2019.

17 hours ago

Photo: Teens were caught allegedly robbing a 7-Eleven in Renton on July 18, 2024....

Julia Dallas

4 teens arrested in connection with Renton 7-Eleven robbery

Four teenagers were arrested in connection with the robbery of a 7-Eleven in Renton early Thursday morning.

18 hours ago

An urgent plea for King County women to get tested for syphilis