PIERRE, S.D. (KELO AM) – Syphilis cases are at a 40-year high in South Dakota, with 44 cases reported so far this year in 10 counties across the state. According to the state health department, that includes 12 cases in Corson County.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is spread by sexual contact with an infected individual. Initial symptoms disappear without treatment and include a painless sore at the site of initial contact and swollen glands. About six weeks later the second stage of the disease begins with the most common symptom a rash that can appear on any part of the body. Other symptoms can include tiredness, fever, sore throat, headaches, hoarseness, loss of appetite and swollen glands. These symptoms also resolve without treatment.
After the second stage of the disease, the only way to detect syphilis is with a blood test. This late syphilis may involve illness in the skin, bones, central nervous system and heart, may impair health and may shorten life.
The disease is easily treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria and prevent further damage. However, treatment will not repair the damage already done.
To prevent syphilis the department recommends the following:
- Limit your number of sex partners and use a condom.
- If you think you are infected, avoid any sexual contact and visit your local STD clinic, a hospital or your doctor.
- Notify all sexual contacts immediately so they can be tested and treated.
Because syphilis can be transmitted to the unborn baby and cause stillbirth or congenital systemic disease, pregnant women should receive at least one prenatal blood test for syphilis.