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FOR RELEASE: September 21 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Syphilis Outbreak Identified in Washington County

State and local public health officials are alarmed at an emerging outbreak of syphilis in Bartlesville, located in Washington County.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) HIV/STD Service announced today that during routine disease surveillance efforts between the last week of May and Sept. 13, 2006, there have been 13 early syphilis cases identified in Bartlesville. Of those cases, all were transmitted through heterosexual contact and most cases were associated with crack and methamphetamine use, or sex for drugs and money. By comparison, in the last five years, only one case of early syphilis was identified in Washington County.

OSDH and Washington County Health Department officials stress that persons at high risk for contracting syphilis should be aware of this outbreak and seek immediate testing for the disease. Persons at risk include those having multiple sex partners, a history of injection drug use, having sex without using a condom, and being infected with HIV. Early detection and treatment prevent further damage that syphilis may cause to the body and may also reduce the risk for HIV transmission.

In addition, the OSDH HIV/STD Service asks health care providers in the area to report suspected cases to the OSDH, even while testing is still pending, in an effort to prevent further spread of the disease.

For more information about syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases, contact Brenda Davis, coordinating nurse at the Washington County Health Department, 3838 State Street, Bartlesville, phone (918) 335-3005.

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