Syphilis Outbreak Hits Indianapolis

Health Officials Confirm Dozens Of Cases, Fear More

Syphilis has spread to dozens of people in Marion County in the past three months, health officials said.

Marion County health officials said 45 cases of the sexually transmitted disease have been reported in the county since Jan. 1. That number exceeds by seven the county's total number of cases in 2007.

The people who have syphilis this year are mostly white men, particularly those having sex with other men, health officials said.

A representative of the Marion County Health Department said the patients' ages range from 18 to 56. The average age is 36, the representative told 6News Staying Healthy reporter Stacia Matthews.

"Few of these cases are connected to one another, and we fear more people may have been exposed," said the representative, John Althardt.

Althardt said health officials are implementing a plan that includes guidance on testing, laboratory analysis, reporting of results, treatment and appropriate follow-up.

The plan was used in 1999 when Indianapolis led the nation in the number of syphilis cases. That outbreak was blamed on drugs and prostitution.

Among those who have tested positive this year, 70 percent tested positive for HIV.

Health officials encourage people who engage in risky behavior to get tested. To schedule an appointment, call the Bell Flower Clinic in Indianapolis at 317-221-8300.