Number of syphilis cases continues to rise in Oklahoma County
OKLAHOMA CITY —
A syphilis outbreak is still alive and well in Oklahoma County.
First reported in March, there were already more than 62 confirmed cases in the county. There are now more than 230. State health authorities say they have since been aggressively pursuing the outbreak, but they have yet to see a slowdown.
Jan Fox, Director of HIV/STD service at the Oklahoma State Health Department, says this is mostly due to the fact by the time an outbreak is declared there is already an overwhelming number of unreported cases. She says it's also a disease that affects people of all ages, especially those associated with the business of doing drugs.
"For instance, we're seeing people who have exchanged sex for drugs or money,” said Fox. “Or, perhaps, they have had sex while under the influence of drugs, so they may make decisions that they wouldn't of ordinarily made because of the drugs."
To combat the outbreak, the department has deployed several disease intervention specialists. These employees are tasked with locating individuals who have tested positive for syphilis and ensuring they receive treatment.
They are then responsible for notifying that person's previous partners and ensuring they are also treated.
To prevent yourself from contracting syphilis, Fox urges you to avoid drugs and alcohol, limit your number of sex partners, and always use protection.