Maui News

Advisory Issued for Possible Syphilis Outbreak in Hawaiʻi

June 12, 2013, 9:14 AM HST
* Updated June 12, 10:15 AM
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Hospital lab file photo by Wendy Osher.

Hospital lab file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Officials from the state Department of Health issued a medical advisory to physicians across the state this week after confirming five cases of syphilis on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.  Officials say the cases were reported over a five month period.

Authorities say most of the cases were reported in men who had sex with men in West Hawaiʻi, but state officials say cases related to the outbreak may develop on other islands.

“There may be people who are infected and unaware of their illness, who have traveled to other islands,” said Luke Hasty, program coordinator for the STD/AID Prevention Branch of the DOH in a press release issued today.

Health department officials describe syphilis as a sexually-transmitted disease that is passed from one person to another by a specific bacterium during unprotected sexual contact.

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The disease can cause long-term complications and/or death, if not adequately treated, DOH officials said. Infection, authorities say, also increase the likelihood of HIV transmission and acquisition.

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State health officials say timely antibiotic treatment provides an effective cure for the infection and that a blood test is the most common way to determine if someone has the disease.

Individuals with questions or concerns about possible infection should contact their healthcare provider, or call the DOH office on respective islands. The DOH Maui phone number is (808) 984-2129.  The number on Hawaiʻi Island is (808) 974-4247.

***Supporting information courtesy State Department of Health.

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