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Posted on: January 24, 2020

Providers urged to take prevention, treatment steps regarding syphilis cases

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Due to the recent increasing rates of syphilis nationally and in Kansas, healthcare providers in Douglas County are encouraged to take steps in both prevention and treatment of the sexually transmitted disease.

In recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its annual STD Surveillance report for 2018 which shows that the number of babies born with syphilis has reached its highest level in over 20 years. This report also shows that Kansas ranks 15th in the nation for Congenital Syphilis cases when adjusted for population, despite ranking much lower in syphilis infections among adults.

Advance Practice Registered Nurse Sue McDaneld, who leads the Health Department’s STI Clinic, said the clinic has seen recent cases of syphilis.

“In the community, it is important for providers to report cases to the state, and to screen patients in a non-judgmental way for certain risk factors,” McDaneld said.

Sexually transmitted diseases can have severe health consequences. Among the most tragic are newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis, which increased 22 percent nationally from 2017 to 2018 (from 77 to 94 deaths).

The KDHE encourages all healthcare providers to have an honest and nonjudgmental talk with patients about their sexual history. STI counseling should be provided to those at risk, and contraceptive counseling should be provided to those at risk of unintended pregnancy. Syphilis testing should be performed for sexually active patients as part of an annual STI/Sexual Health panel, and more frequent STI screening should be considered if a patient reports multiple sex partners, substance use or other risk factors.

More information about the Health Department’s STI Walk-in Clinic and its hours is available online here.