Marion Co. syphilis cases rising at nearly 4X the national rate

3d illustration of a syphilis pathogen

A surge in syphilis cases has caused the Marion County Health and Human Services (MCHHS) to urge residents to get tested.

Across the country, cases rose nearly 59% from 2017-2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But MCHHS reports that from 2018-2022, Marion County has seen an increase of 216%, nearly four times the national rate from the previous year’s data.

Congenital syphilis, cases where syphilis is transmitted during pregnancy, have increased 235% since 2016, according to CDC data. These cases can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and serious illness and death in newborns.

“Fortunately, syphilis remains 100% preventable and treatable when affected community members have access to healthcare,” MCHHS public health officer Dr. Caroline Castillo said.

The MCHHS urges everyone 45 and younger who are sexually active to get tested for syphilis.

Left untreated, syphilis can lead to dementia, heart disease, nerve damage and blindness.

It spreads through direct contact, and progresses through four stages. Treatment changes depending on what stage the disease is in.

“At MCHHS, we are prepared to stage and treat community members in our clinic and to support healthcare providers in the community,” Castillo said.

To schedule an STD test at the MCCHS public clinic, call 503-588-5342.