Syphilis Outbreak-Things To Know

FILE - In this May 23, 1944 file photo, the organism treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, is seen through an electron microscope.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Alarming numbers from the Kansas City Health Department show that a serious sexually transmitted infection is rising fast in the metro.

Bill Snook with the health department said the sharp rise in syphilis cases across the city should concern everyone, especially after nine babies were born in the last year with the disease.

“Until there are zero cases, we won’t be ahead of it,” Snook said. “We’ve actually had one stillborn birth that was infected.”

In the last 12 months, the department has recorded a 71 percent jump in cases showing up across the metro.

The numbers could be rising for a myriad of reasons, from IV drug use to more people actually getting tested.

The KC Care Clinic is seeing the same rise in their patients.

“So, there’s two sides of it,” said Krista Palacios, a registered nurse. “There’s more people getting tested, but you probably also have maybe a little less condom use than seen in the past.”

Palacios said the clinic is seeing more patients with early stages of the disease, which means it can most likely be treated with one does of antibiotics.

However, the medications don’t come cheap. KC Care Clinic and the health department are able to get long-release penicillin at pennies on the dollar, but patients at private offices could see a $90 price tag.

The health department won’t say this is a crisis. “We’re actually seeing a crisis of people not knowing their status,” Snook said.

Snook noted that the rise in the number of people with syphilis is happening across the country.

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