Clark County health district reports syphilis outbreak

County offers incentives to get tested.

The Clark County Combined Health District commissioner said they are seeing other diseases in the county other than the coronavirus.

“We are in a syphilis outbreak here in Clark County. It’s not easily identified. Many practitioners have probably never even seen cases of syphilis. ... We have been educating them, doing some testing,” said Health Commissioner Charles Patterson.

Patterson said the outbreak has nothing to do with masking and “probably something” to do with social distancing.

So far in 2021, there have been 34 cases of syphilis reported in Clark County. In 2020, there were 83 cases reported and 36 in 2019, according to the CCCHD.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease and is a bacterial infection that can be cured, but it can cause long-term complications and/or death if not treated.

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The health district has a “new tool” and they can do rapid testing for syphilis within 10 minutes.

“In 10 minutes, we can do a finger prick and can identify people in our community and get them treated. Syphilis is treatable if we know about it and follow through on three doses of treatment. Basically three shots of penicillin derivative and very inexpensive - the treatment is free,” Patterson said.

Patterson said they are even offering incentives to get tested - a $10 gift card for 10 minutes.

“A dollar a minute to come in and see us, take time to screen,” he said. “We want to make sure the citizens of our community are protected.”

Symptoms of syphilis vary depending on what stage the disease is in. Early signs can include, but are not limited to, rashes, lesions or sores, and sometimes there are no symptoms. Most time, the sores heal without treatment so the disease remains undetected. If untreated, there may be neurological symptoms such as stroke, hearing or vision abnormalities.

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According to the CCCHD, to help prevent the disease, there are a few things you can do: If your sexual history includes risk factors, find a way to be tested by calling the CCCHD for locations in the community and/or talk to your health care provider. If you test positive or are a partner to someone who tested positive, help decrease the spread by discussing your situation when talking to the health district.

The health district holds a Sexual Health and Wellness Clinic that provides testing and education from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays at Southern Village Plaza, 1209-3 Sunset Ave., and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the health district, 529 E. Home Road.