Syphilis outbreak reported in Saline County

Saline County Health Department (KSN File Photo)

SALINA, Kansas – Health officials say Saline County is dealing with an outbreak of syphilis.

From January to June of this year, Saline County did not have any reported cases of syphilis. But Jason Tiller, coordinator for the Saline County Health Department, says that in the past 75 days more than 12 cases, found in early stage, have been reported in the county. That’s compared to one in all of last year.

” It’s not like we’re really looking at one particular group that has the most of it. Male, female, white black, rich, poor; they all can be impacted because we’re talking about a common activity which is sex,” Tiller said.

Tiller told Saline County commissioners Tuesday that officials think more cases of syphilis are going undiagnosed, and the department is trying to raise awareness.

Health officials want to make sure that the community is aware of the outbreak. They’re concerned that there could be more cases out there that have not yet been diagnosed.

“We suspect that there are many other cases out there because that early stage can last up to 90 days. So they might not even know that they’ve been infected with it,” said Tiller.

He says, patients who go untreated, can have serious consequences.

“For those that go far on and can have it for decades, there’s that possibility of then developing dementia and blindness and even death,” said Tiller.

The key is to be treated early with antibiotics.

“There is that possibility that they could have an outbreak of syphilis again. So kind of reoccurring and then be able to spread to somebody else,” Tiller said.

Tiller says syphilis is a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact, and is easily treatable with antibiotics during the first year after infection. It can be treated later, but it’s more difficult to treat.

The early symptoms of syphilis include small sores, that usually don’t hurt. The rash can spread, starting on your mid-section and eventually can cover the entire body. It may also come with wart-like sores in the mouth or genital area.

If you have any of the symptoms, or are concerned about your possible exposure, see your doctor.

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