Health Department Says Syphilis On The Rise In Oklahoma County

Friday, August 25th 2017, 3:35 pm
By: Karl Torp

The Oklahoma Department of Health is warning about an outbreak of syphilis in Oklahoma County.

In March, the number infected with syphilis in Oklahoma County was around 80. It now stands at 200 cases.  Almost all of the cases are people between 14-49 years old.

"I've been doing this for eight years and never in my time have we had that many cases that were connected," says Intervention Specialist Portia King with the Okla. Dept. of Health.

King interviews those infected, then works the phones, Facebook and hits the streets looking for to inform their partners they may be unknowingly carrying the sexually-transmitted disease.

“We have to get people to talk about the private parts of their lives with a complete stranger is not an easy job,” says King.

King says what adds to the difficulty of a containing a syphilis outbreak is the challenge of diagnosing the STD.

“It’s called the great imitator. It looks like a lot of different things. It seems like a lot of different things,” says King.

The Ok. Department of Health is offers free testing and trying to get the word out to health care providers. It’s also warning IV drug users about the unintended consequences of addiction.

“It’s not so much about who your sexual partner is terms of risk, it about those other risk activities that are leading your partner,” adds King.