There's A Huge Outbreak Of Syphilis Happening In This US City
Las Vegas is currently experiencing a syphilis outbreak, and dating apps may be largely to blame.
According to Yahoo! News, Clark County officials released an official warning to the public after 694 new cases of the sexually transmitted disease were confirmed in 2015, with 615 of the cases involving men.
This is a 128 percent increase in total cases compared to 2012, enough to give Nevada the highest rate of syphilis in the western US.
Joe Iser, Las Vegas' chief health officer, said,
We are considering this an outbreak because disease rates in our community are continuing to climb and we see no plateau at this point.
Syphilis spreads through skin-to-skin contact and can only be diagnosed via a blood test as opposed to a urine test, which detects several other STDs all at once.
Symptoms such as open sores and rashes sometimes do not show early on, but they can be effectively treated by penicillin if detected quickly, Associated Press reports.
Various factors were named as causes for the outbreak, including increases in population and detection rates.
Health officials said condom use decreased, however.
Elizabeth Adelman, a senior disease investigator for the health department in Las Vegas, told the Associated Press dating app users might not discuss condom use with partners because they do not spend enough time together in person before engaging in sexual activity.
She added health officials asked for some sort of presence on these dating apps -- mentioning the gay website Adam4Adam in particular -- so users have easy access to health-related information. Officials are also reportedly looking at Tinder and Grindr as well.
Health authorities may also advertise on these apps and even create profiles to spot potential carriers.
Syphilis rates also increased in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Hawaii as of late, resulting in a 15 percent increase in cases throughout the country, according to 2014 data.
Cases of chlamydia, the most common STD, reportedly skyrocketed to unprecedented heights as well.