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Syphilis Outbreak in St. Louis

In the first three weeks of 2005, twenty-five cases of Syphilis have been reported in the St. Louis area. Health officials have determined that five of those cases were previously reported, leaving the possibility that twenty are new cases. The national goal for Syphilis is .4 new cases per 100,000 people. That would amount to one or two new cases a year for a population the size of St. Louis city.

Although numbers of this size point to an outbreak of syphilis in St. Louis city, that conclusion is not certain. One expert familiar with the data said that similar spikes have occurred in the past and did not result in a large scale outbreak. Thus the data raises serious concerns, but officials are trying to avoid jumping to conclusions until they have more data. Still, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services did issue a Syphilis Health Alert for the St. Louis area on January 27.

The predominant demographic is Men having Sex with Men, or MSMs, as this population is classified in the sexually transmitted disease lexicon.

Joy Steele, executive director of St. Louis Effort for AIDS, and other public health experts have hypothesized that two large events in the gay community – Spanksgiving and Hibearnation – may have contributed the recent rise. The speculation is that the sources of the infection were among the many people from across the country attending the events.

The outbreak is a set-back for St. Louis City which has been trying to eliminate syphilis through concentrated efforts over the last several years. St. Louis City has taken its lead from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who initiated a National Plan to Eliminate Syphilis from the United States in 1998 when national levels dropped to historic lows. At that time St. Louis City ranked 20th in the nation in annual number of new syphilis cases, and was one of 28 counties that accounted for 50% of all new U.S. cases. Efforts to reduce new cases have included increasing testing levels and raising awareness of disease prevalence among high-risk populations like MSMs and African Americans.

During last weekend’s Mardi Gras, the Health Department was handing out “Syphilis Alert” flyers with their packets of health information. The flyer did not mention the recent rise in cases. It did urge testing.

Posted by on Tue., Feb 8, 2005 at 11:12 AM | ACC Exclusive (51)

We must remember that we have lots of students coming from all over the world training at JBC School of Medicine living in the City of Saint Louis.

There are many people that moved from Saint Louis County back to the City of Saint Louis, which are considered (white). Are these people included in the survey?

They are always trying to clasify the Indians as low as they possibly can. Are they the only ones that cause trouble or get these undesirable diseases. Why? Enough is enough.

Posted by Mary on Sat., Feb 12, 2005 at 7:47 PM

Please check your sources better....Spanksgiving is a predominantly Heterosexual event....not a gay one!

Posted by Jim on Tue., Jun 19, 2007 at 11:10 PM
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