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Syphilis Is Back In the Hudson Valley At An Alarming Rate

Bartosz Wardziak/ThinkStock

While it was once almost eliminated, local health officials are warning that syphilis has returned in the Hudson Valley.


In 2015 the highest numbers of syphilis cases were reported in the U.S. since 1995, officials say.

According to the Putnam County Department of Health, from 2015 to 2016 the number of cases of syphilis in Putnam County increased by a 125 percent.

“Our Putnam numbers are disturbing,” said Interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. “After a historic low nationwide in 2001, this sexually transmitted disease has resurged. Unfortunately if untreated, it causes serious health problems. For newborns it can be fatal. Last year in a neighboring county, an infant with congenital syphilis which is passed from the mother, did not survive.”

Often, syphilis develops in stages with a variety of symptoms that can go unnoticed and clear up without treatment, officials say.

During the first stage, single or multiple painless sores develop at the site where syphilis enters the body. During this phase, the disease spreads by direct contact with a syphilis sore during any sexual activity.

Second-stage symptoms may include a faint skin rash, internal sores, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, patchy hair loss, weight loss, muscle aches and tiredness.

These stages are followed by a latent period during which there are no signs or symptoms, but the disease continues and a person can potentially transmit the disease to a sexual partner for up to a year after the initial infection, health officials warn.

The final stage is the most serious, occurring 10 to 30 years after infection, which may result in organ damage and death.

During any stage, syphilis can be spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby.

With the right antibiotics, syphilis is curable. The only way to know if you are infected is to have a blood test, which is now being recommended more widely by health officials locally and across the country.

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