Tacoma-Pearce County Health Department Warns of Increase in Syphilis Cases

TACOMA, Wash. — Syphilis is back in Pierce County, causing devastating cases.

“What we’re dealing with right now are people in precarious housing, people using drugs, and that’s kind of fueling the epidemic in our communities right now. said Emily Gregersen, a disease investigation specialist at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Syphilis cases have increased sharply over the past seven years. In 2016 there were 58 cases. In 2022, the number of cases was last reported to have increased more than 12-fold to 711.

Syphilis infects not only adults, but also newborn children.

Gregersen said 14 cases of congenital syphilis were found last year, but only two in 2020. Congenital syphilis is a condition caused by a mother passing a syphilis infection to her fetus.

Community Health Family Nurse Practitioner Judy Estroff has seen a rapid rise in cases of congenital syphilis in recent years.

“They try to blame someone and then become unsure about themselves. This can be very depressing,” Estroff said.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is warning residents of the “syphilis danger” and encouraging them to come to the hospital and get tested.

“We’re trying to get the message across. The epidemic is back again,” said Kim Aguilar, program advisor for the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. It has returned with vengeance. ”

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