Health officials: Syphilis outbreak in Comanche County

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LAWTON, Okla. - The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Comanche County Health Department have confirmed an outbreak of syphilis in Lawton, Okla. and the surrounding areas.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease  and can significantly affect your health if it's not diagnosed and not treated.

The Comanche Health Department Director says syphilis can be cured with antibiotics and encourages people to get tested and seek treatment.

“The good news is syphilis can be identified by examination and testing, cured with antibiotics, and through disease investigation, the spread of syphilis can be stopped,” said Comanche County Health Department Regional Director Brandie O’Connor. “We want to encourage people to seek testing and treatment if they have been having unprotected sex. Free confidential testing and treatment are available at local county health departments.”

Officials are also concerned that the outbreak may spread to counties beyond the outbreak area.

“The people at high risk for Syphilis due to this specific outbreak include men who have sex with men, people who have multiple sex partners, IV drug users and people who have sex with anonymous partners, including those met online,” O'Connor said.

A person can contract and spread syphilis through:

  • Oral sex;
  • Anal sex;
  • Vaginal sex, or
  • Through other intimate contact including kissing (when a syphilis sore is present in the mouth).

Symptoms of syphilis include:

  • A painless lesion, called a chancre, during the early stages of the disease,
    • Can be on or in the penis, or inside the vagina, anus or mouth;
  • Rashes
    • Appear rough, red or reddish brown spots on palms of hands and bottoms of feet or on the torso;
  • Swollen lymph glands;
  • Sore throat; and
  • Fatigue

Left untreated, syphilis can cause damage to:

  • Major organs, including the brain and blood vessels; and
  • Cause serious birth defects or infant death
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