Syphilis cases on the rise in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) The Indiana State Department of Health is urging healthcare providers to educate patients after an increase of syphilis cases across the state.

“Indiana experienced a 70 percent increase in syphilis cases between 2014 and 2015,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “We are continuing to see an increase this year and we are working closely with local health officials and healthcare providers to make sure patients are getting tested and receive treatment.”

In 2014, Indiana reported 168 cases of primary and secondary syphilis and 129 cases of early latent syphilis. In 2015, Indiana reported 285 cases of primary and secondary and 220 cases of early latent syphilis.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. is seeing similar increases nationally.

The sexually transmitted infection spreads by direct, skin to skin contact during unprotected sex and can be transmitted to unborn babies by pregnant women who are infected.

In its primary stage, syphilis causes painless sores at the site of infection.  As the disease progresses to the secondary stage, it can cause rashes on the body, hands and feet, hair loss, fever, muscle aches and weight loss. Many people infected with syphilis do not notice the early symptoms.  Although these symptoms will go away on their own, it is important to know that the infection has not been cured unless it has been treated with an appropriate antibiotic. Untreated syphilis can lead to serious complications, such as infections of the nervous system, heart, and bone, and can result in death.

The CDC recommends that all patients who test positive for syphilis also be tested for HIV. For more information about syphilis, go to To see the CDC’s syphilis treatment guidelines, visit

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