Amidst the coronavirus, Alaska health officials are treating another outbreak – syphilis.
According to local media reports, the state Department of Health and Social Services said sexually transmitted diseases are present at all times throughout the country and in Alaska. The Alaska State Bulletin of Epidemiology on Syphilis, published Thursday, stated that the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases doubled in 2019, and health officials are is concerned that the numbers will reach a similar level in 2020.
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According to the bulletin, most of the increased cases were in heterosexual men and women. The increase in women’s cases raises the risk of women passing the infection on to their babies, officials said, adding in the report that this “emphasizes the importance of STD screening. at the initial prenatal visit, during the third trimester, and at the time of delivery for those at risk. “
“This is a reminder that as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic, there are other outbreaks that need our attention,” Dr. Joe McLaughlin, an Alaska State Epidemiologist, said in a statement to the local TV outlet KTUU-2.
An outbreak of syphilis in Alaska was first declared in 2018. At that time, 114 cases were reported to state epidemiologists. But by 2019, the number of syphilis cases had risen to 242, representing a 112 percent increase.
Many factors have contributed to the departure in cases. These included methamphetamine and heroin use, homelessness, and a history of incarceration within 12 months prior to the survey, according to the state’s Epidemiology Bulletin.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended states with STD clinics to open under capacity constraints in an effort to prioritize patients with STD symptoms and groups that are considered high risk, reported the local outlet.
In order to reduce the spread of the disease, the department advised Alaskans to take precautions, be tested regularly, and seek treatment and inform their partner if they are positive, according to KTUU-2.