Health Alert in LA County, Several Blinding Cases of Syphilis on the West Coast Reported

The Los Angeles County Department of Health has warned doctors and public health officials to be alert for symptoms related with ocular syphilis — a sexually transmitted disease that can cause to blindness .after two potential cases were reported in Los Angeles last Tuesday. So far, local media reports 14 confirmed cases of the disease have been reported across the West Coast since December, including eight in San Francisco and six in Washington State.

According to the Los Angeles Times, so far, most of the cases that have been reported were gay men who have sex with men, a few of them are also HIV positive. In Seattle, two patients reported went blind as a result of the disease. Ocular syphilis usually develops as a complication of early syphilis and can cause blindness and left untreated.

“These new cases of ocular syphilis highlight the importance of ongoing, regular check-ups for sexually-active individuals who feel they may be at risk, particularly men who have sex with men,” Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, in a statement .“We call on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to step up and do more to alert and educate medical providers about ocular syphilis. County officials should also develop a strategic plan for reducing syphilis cases, including putting out a monthly update to the media as well as running the monthly update as an advertisement in LGBT publications.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 3,500 cases of syphilis were reported in California in 2013 — the second highest in the U.S. Moreover, the prevalence of syphilis among males in California — 17.5 cases per 100,000 population — was also much higher than that of the country as a whole.

Stephanie Cohen, medical director of San Francisco City Clinic said “We see it all year, but it seems like this is a large number of cases in a short period of time,”  told Los Angeles Daily News.

The CDC should come up with more information drive in order to curve the alarming increase of this very infectious disease. We can’t afford another breakout after the flu and measles.



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