US State Sees Rise in Unusual Syphilis Symptoms, Raising Concerns! 

United States: Disease detectives in Chicago say they are seeing a worrisome trend: Soaring complaints of patients experiencing unusual eye or vision problems or headaches, dizziness, or hearing loss because of a sexually transmitted infection called Syphilis. 

Syphilis has the ability to severely damage vision and hearing and its potential to give an individual psychological change. However, these changes are usually associated with infections that may have been undetected for many years. 

About the recent study 

In a new research study at the 2024 Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference, which was held in Atlanta on Wednesday, researchers revealed that in Chicago alone last year, there were more than twenty-five cases with symptoms similar to those of some kind of illness, and if these illnesses are not treated early, their rates will increase. 

According to CNN Health reports, Syphilis was diagnosed for over two-thirds (68 percent) of patients with the atypical form of the disease, which did not exhibit common symptoms like the chancre sore or the rash or chancre sore, which might help doctors to find the infection. 

Dr. Amy Nham, the study lead author and the first-year EIS officer or “disease detective” assigned to the Chicago Department of Public Health, stated, “Providers definitely need to be screening more and be aware that this is what we’re seeing,” as CNN Health reported. 

US State Sees Rise in Unusual Syphilis Symptoms, Raising Concerns. Credit | Getty Images
US State Sees Rise in Unusual Syphilis Symptoms, Raising Concerns. Credit | Getty Images

About the rising Syphilis cases in the US 

Syphilis cases are gaining pace and are disrupting the US society. In 2022, 207,000 syphilis cases were reported, which is the highest number of cases since the sixties, according to the CDC’s website. 

For many years, the most susceptible population among them is men who have sex with men. They have experienced the highest rate of Syphilis in the US, and this is still true. 

Yet, the population with different sexual habits has been rising and reveals now almost 200 percent more gay men and women than in 2019. 

In addition to the clustering of a common congenital disease in a single region, some women with congenital syphilis tend to pass on the disease to their newborn babies. 

What are the findings from the recent study? 

According to Nham, who was being asked by her supervisors at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to go over any atypical symptoms of NOO syphilis (or neurosyphilis, ocular syphilis, and otic syphilis), after the infection, cases were on the rise in the city. 

She examined thoroughly to find cases of patients that had symptoms or signs that were diagnosable as NOO syphilis and 28 cases met the case definition. 

The majority of cases (about 75 percent) were men and Black (71 percent). They were 23-82-year-olds. Out of them, six were gay men, whereas almost half described themselves as heterosexual. 

1/3 of the people tested were HIV positive. However, this statistical figure was lower than Nham presumed since most HIV-positive individuals would usually have a more advanced stage of Syphilis. 

According to the latest CDC study, practically one out of three gay men with primary and secondary Syphilis was infected with HIV. 

Nham’s research revealed that the most affected patients reported symptoms, cranial pressure/headache, personality changes or mental functioning, and eye problems such as vision loss, sensitivity to light, or conjunctival swelling as the most common complaints. 

Nham stated, “They’re not the most specific symptoms, which is why it’s really important that providers are doing appropriate screening and asking patients for risk factors,” and things like their sexual history, as CNN Health reported.