Syphilis Rates Increasing Rapidly in Lane County

Syphilis Rates Increasing Rapidly in Lane County
Posted on 10/27/2016

Lane County Public Health (LCPH) announced the case rate of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis has increased as much as 1,000 percent in Lane County since 2010, from a few cases per year to a new average of over 50. Additionally, the groups primarily affected by the disease have expanded to now include females. As of October 6, 2016, the County has seen 41 cases.

While effective treatments do exist for syphilis, the disease can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly and can be difficult to detect depending on which of three stages the disease is in (primary, secondary and latent). The two symptoms most often associated with the primary and secondary stages are a painless sore reminiscent of an ingrown hair on an individual’s genitals, rectum or mouth and a non-itchy body rash which can be relegated to just one area or the whole body. Symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, blindness, and dementia. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease damages internal organs and can result in death.


According to LCPH, while difficulty in detection presents a challenge in diagnosis, the main culprits behind this recent spike are lack of access to services such as testing, lack of communication regarding sexual history in provider visits and most importantly, individuals engaging in unprotected sex.

To help increase community awareness about syphilis, LCPH, with the support of the Oregon Health Authority, is launching an informational campaign which includes various forms of community outreach, community education and provider education. Please go to to learn more.

Contact our Communicable Disease section to find out about testing for syphilis and other STDs.