GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Health officials are reporting a surge in syphilis cases in the east and across the country.
According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control, the total number surpassed 207,000 in 2022, a 17 % increase and the highest count in the United States since 1950.
ECU student Krish Patel says it’s not unusual for his peers to take risks when it comes to prevention.
“I don’t think it’s a popular thing, especially at ECU. The college culture is about you know having fun and not really being on the safe side, but I do have friends that practice safe sex” says Patel.
Syphilis is a bacterial disease that can surface as painless genital sores but can ultimately lead to paralysis, hearing loss, dementia, and even death if left untreated.
ECU Health Chief Neonatal Medicine Doctor Ryan Moore says the disease is also increasingly affecting newborns.
“From 2012 to 2022, we’ve had a five times increase in syphilis here in North Carolina. In 2012, we had one case of congenital syphilis, in 2022 we had 70 cases” says Moore.
The CDS says syphilis continues to have a disproportionate impact on gay and bisexual men but is also expanding in heterosexual women and men.
Jack Jones offers these words to those who are not following the medical advice from doctors.
“They should just be more careful, you never know what anyone really has, things spread around fast, so yeah.”
Health officials say syphilis is curable with the right antibiotics from your healthcare provider.
New syphilis infections plummeted in the US in the 1940′s when antibiotics became widely available and fell to their lowest by 1998.