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Roosevelt County Sees High Amount Of Syphilis Cases


As sexual awareness month is recognized in the nation, it’s a time for county residents to be reminded of the challenges currently being encountered by health officials.

As of Aug. 27, there have been 51 syphilis latent cases and 39 syphilis primary or secondary cases in Roosevelt County for the year.

Patty Presser, director of the Roosevelt County Health Department, said, the amount of primary and secondary cases mean that new cases keep occurring in the county.

Latent cases are persons that have been affected for a year or more but can still infect others.

“The 51 latent cases tell us that this disease has been in our population for quite some time, but people didn’t take the time to get diagnosed,” Presser said.

The amount of syphilis cases ranks Roosevelt County as the highest county for such cases in Montana based on per capita. The county has experienced a high number of cases since the COVID pandemic.

In addition, 110 chlamydia and 62 gonorrhea cases have been reported in the county during 2022.

“Although we’re concerned with the others, we’re most concerned with the syphilis number,” Presser said. She notes that syphilis is preventable and treatable.

Consequences of syphilis can include still births, pre-mature births, deformities and other health issues for the baby. It’s vital for pregnant women to be treated as early as possible.

Health issues for non-pregnant individuals can include dementia and neurological problems.

With the goal of decreasing the amount of cases, condoms are available at the health department, hospitals and clinics. The health department supplies condoms for bars throughout the county. Treatments and tests are available at Listerud Rural Health Clinic, Indian Health Services and Riverside Family Clinic. The health department plans to start offering sexual transmitted infections testing and treatment sometime during October.

Officials note that anything skin touches skin, the disease can be spread. Sores are sometimes difficult to appreciate especially by women.

To try to decrease the spread of sexual transmitted diseases, people should know their sexual partners well, decrease their amount of partners and be tested frequently if they participate in high risk behavior.

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