Health official speaks on syphilis outbreak - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Health official speaks on syphilis outbreak

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) –  State health officials announced an outbreak of syphilis across Central Oklahoma but say that outbreak is not something we need to worry about in Comanche County.

Last week, it was announced there have been about 80 cases of syphilis in Oklahoma County in just the last few months. Officials are now working to stop the spread of the disease but the Comanche County Health Department said there is no indication it's reached our area.

The main contributors to the spread are high drug use, exchanging sex for money or drugs or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Health Educator for the Comanche County Health Department Sarah Lambaria said even though we don't need to worry about an outbreak in southwest Oklahoma, that doesn't mean syphilis can't be a problem here.

"We do advocate that if anyone is involved in those high-risk behaviors or if they know a loved one who might be at risk because of some of those behaviors, we do encourage you to come get tested,” Lambaria said.

Lambaria said syphilis starts out pretty simple, with just a painless sore, but she said that is followed by a rash on the feet or hands and ultimately, by long-term issues that can't be fixed.

"We do see those serious long-term irreversible health problems,” Lambaria said. “That's where you look at things like problems with the central nervous system, brain, it can even lead to death."

She said there is no reason to let things get to that stage with how easily you can test for the disease.

"The patient will come in, can get seen the same day, we'll do simple lab draws and follow-up with the results. Of course, all our testing is free and confidential,” Lambaria said.

Lambaria said syphilis can be easily treated with Penicillin or other antibiotics, assuming you start treatment in the early stages of the disease. But catching the disease early on can be very difficult.

"Part of the challenge when we're talking about syphilis or really any sexually transmitted infection is that often people don't present with symptoms,” Lambaria said. “They may be exposed and not event know they are exposed. They may be fighting the infection and not even know they are fighting the infection."

The Comanche County Health Department is open for free, anonymous same-day testing Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. You can call and make an appointment or they take walk-ins every day at 8 a.m. 12 p.m.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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