Statewide spike in Syphilis cases concerns health department - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Statewide spike in Syphilis cases concerns health department

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BLACK HAWK COUNTY (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Public Health says it's seeing a significant increase in Syphilis cases.

According to George Walton, Sexually Transmitted Disease Program Manager at the Iowa Department of Public Health, data for 2012 cases are preliminary numbers because officials are still working on closing cases and compiling data.

"The most significant increase is in Polk County, although we are also seeing smaller increases in Iowa's other urban areas, including Black Hawk County," said Walton.

The Polk County Health Department reported it saw a 420 percent increase in Syphilis cases this past year.

It says from January to October in 2012, the county saw 112 cases, but during the same time period in 2011, it only had 27 reported cases.

"The majority of cases are occurring in men who have sex with men," said Walton.

A spokesperson for the Polk County Health Department said Syphilis is known as the "great imitator" because the symptoms are often similar to that of the flu or bronchitis. That's why it's recommended folks get tested frequently if they are sexually active.

Health officials also recommend people ask their partners about their sexual health and about their testing history.

The statewide surveillance report is expected to be released with county-specific data at the end of March.

Kaitlin Emrich with the Black Hawk County Health Department said after the report is released, she plans on contacting healthcare providers in the county to gain a more accurate understanding on the increase of Syphilis cases in the local community.

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