Syphilis Cases Spike In Lane County

Oct 11, 2019

Lane County public health officials are seeing a dramatic rise in syphilis cases this year. They say the highly communicable disease is spreading because people just aren’t getting tested.

So far, there are 92 reported syphilis cases countywide, with the majority showing up in Eugene. Jason Davis is with Lane County Health and Human Services. He says officials fear there could be even more --given the nature of the disease.

Graph of syphilis cases in Lane County over time.
Credit Lane County Health and Human Services

“It starts out as a small sore and a lot of times that small sore has not pain associated with it,” says Davis. “So people see and they kind of ignore it, maybe give it a few days to go away and then it does go away.”

“So people think, ‘I’m free and clear. I’m good to go.’ They don’t get tested and then they are still contagious and they can spread it around,” he says.

Davis says this year’s data shows a troubling increase in female cases. Syphilis can be spread in the womb. He also points to the advent of online dating. The public health message when it comes to casual sex: always use protection.