MDH: 23% increase in Minnesota's reported syphilis cases in 2019

MDH: 23% increase in Minnesota's reported syphilis cases in 2019 Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: August 05, 2020 04:54 PM
Created: August 05, 2020 03:42 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health released its annual sexually transmitted diseases (STD) report on Wednesday and noted a sharp rise in syphilis as a particular concern.

According to MDH, the past few years have shown a marked increase in syphilis cases in the state and the U.S., cases increased by 23% in Minnesota from 2018 to 2019.

"Our improved analysis of syphilis data has shown a more detailed picture of how syphilis is impacting counties across the state," MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield said. "We are now able to identify hotspots earlier than before and complete a more real-time look into what is going on in these areas."

MDH said new infections are particularly affecting:

  • Females, especially those who are pregnant or of childbearing age.
  • Males, particularly among men who have sex with men.
  • People who inject drugs.
  • People experiencing homelessness.
  • People co-infected with HIV and hepatitis A and C.

Congenital syphilis cases are also increasing in Minnesota, MDH said. A total of 21 congenital syphilis cases were reported in the state last year, a 110% increase from 2018 and the highest number the state has ever reported. Congenital syphilis, which is syphilis in a fetus or infant at birth, can cause serious complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defects and infant death.

MDH recommends regular syphilis screenings for people who are sexually active and for pregnant females.

"Syphilis is a complicated disease that can cause serious health problems, but people often don't recognize symptoms right away," said Christine Jones, STD, HIV and TB section manager at MDH. "Luckily, there are many places people can be tested and treated for syphilis and other STDs across the state."

The report also showed:

  • Chlamydia, the most reported infectious disease in Minnesota, increased by 4% in 2019.
  • Gonorrhea remained the second most commonly reported STD in the state, and reports increased by 7%.

MDH reminded Minnesotans that STDs are preventable through consistent and correct condom use during sex, getting tested regularly for STDs and HIV and getting treated for positive results.

You can find more information online.

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