Urgent call for King County women to get tested for syphilis


UPDATE: APRIL 18, 2023 AT 1:49 PM

King County health officials are warning women under 45 to get tested for syphilis, especially if they haven’t done so since January 2021. 190 cases were reported last year, according to the Department of Health. Washington State Health and Public Health – Seattle and King County, a significant increase from 117 cases in 2021.

The Department of Public Health reported that there has been an almost 5-fold increase in syphilis among cisgender women since 2015 and a 10-fold increase from 2021 to 2022.

Deadly fungus spreading in the United States with about 60% mortality

According to health officials, the disease can start with sores and a rash, and if left untreated, syphilis can spread to the brain, causing serious health problems for the infected person and, if left untreated, is pregnant, newborns who can contract it. Congenital syphilis is a devastating disease that can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, prematurity, and long-term health problems in affected infants.

“The increase in syphilis among cisgender women and pregnant women suggests that syphilis may be spreading in the general population and among women in particular,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County HIV/STD Program, in a prepared statement. “Rising rates of syphilis among cisgender women and pregnant women are alarming, which is why we recommend that most sexually active women 45 and under get tested if they haven’t been tested in 2021, and why we’re asking providers to increase syphilis testing among pregnant women.

The spike in syphilis has been nationwide, according to new data from the CDC, which reported that the number of cases has increased every year since 2012 – the year this sexually transmitted infection (STI) was at a historically low level.

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β€œI believe that, in part, we are not vigilant about testing and treating pregnant women. Unfortunately, according to CDC data, approximately 30% of women do not have access to care,” Dr. Irene Stafford told PBS News. β€œOn top of that, there was a certain percentage (of people) who actually got tested for syphilis but did not receive timely treatment. And finally, there has been an increase in cases where women converted and became infected with syphilis during the third trimester.

Women who need help can call the health clinic at 206-744-3590.

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