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Syphilis and TB are Significant Problems in Mississippi that Threaten to Get Out of Control
From: Miss. Department of Health        Filed 7/20/07

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) announces the availability of new information regarding important public health issues in Mississippi.

The May and June communicable and infectious disease numbers are now available online at www.HealthyMS.com/publications. To view the infectious disease report, click on “Mississippi Morbidity Reports.”  The Mississippi Morbidity Report (MMR) will be published online by the 15th each month and contain the previous month’s numbers.

In addition to making the MMR available to physicians and the public online, the MSDH is developing a monthly report on communicable and infectious diseases designed specifically for the medical community. The first issue is expected in August and will contain July’s numbers. It will be sent to physicians, infectious disease specialists, infectious control practitioners, hospitals and other health care facilities.

“The first responsibility of any health department is tracking communicable disease and other health threats and communicating information about them to the public and to health care providers,” said Interim State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson. “Making sure the latest numbers are available to everyone is one of our most important duties.”

Earlier this month, Thompson identified the spread of syphilis and tuberculosis (TB) as two priority public health issues to be addressed in the coming months. Today’s new numbers continue to confirm that syphilis and TB are significant problems in Mississippi that threaten to get out of control without immediate action.

In the first six months of 2007, there was a significant increase in the numbers of syphilis cases over the same period in 2006. Primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis cases – the earliest and most contagious stages of the disease – increased by 75 percent from January through June of 2007 over January to June 2006. Total early syphilis cases (which include P&S cases and all other cases of less than one year’s duration) increased from 95 cases the first six months of 2006 to 223 cases during the same period in 2007, a 135 percent increase. 

“This increase represents the second year Mississippi has departed from a 10-year long trend of declining or stable numbers of syphilis,” Thompson said. “We have to regain control of this public health threat before it becomes a full-scale epidemic and undoes all the progress we’ve made in the last decade.”   

Last year, Mississippi saw its first rise in new TB cases in 15 years. In the first six months of 2006, there were 51 cases of TB reported; over the same time period in 2007, 49 cases were reported. This is only a slight decrease from the previous years’ numbers, but since a number of TB cases are usually reported at the end of each year, Mississippi’s TB numbers for 2007 are likely to increase over 2006 by year’s end.  

“The first step in controlling both of these diseases is making the public, the medical community and our elected officials aware of the threat,” said Thompson. “We will continue to keep the public and the medical community informed of those health issues that affect their lives on a daily basis.”

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