STDs on the rise in Minnesota, with syphilis cases up 23%

Overalls STI cases increased by over 1,000 between 2018 and 2019, new MDH data show
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The number of new sexually transmitted diseases in Minnesota increased within the past year, including a 23% increase in syphilis cases.

Syphilis cases have increased in Minnesota and nationwide within the past few years, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. This may be partially attributed to the fact that state epidemiologists have begun using a new method for outbreak detection, allowing for a clearer picture of the disease transmission. 

“Our improved analysis of syphilis data has shown a more detailed picture of how syphilis is impacting counties across the state,” MDH State Epidemiologist and Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield said in a news release. 

"We are now able to identify hotspots earlier than before and complete a more real-time look into what is going on in these areas.”

Congenital syphilis cases in fetuses or infants at birth are also increasing in Minnesota, with 21 cases in 2019 representing a 110% increase from 2018. 

“It’s important to let people know that syphilis is still a problem, but that screening and treatment can help avoid serious complications,” Lynfield said.

Here's a breakdown of other findings from this year's data:

  • 33,725 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in 2019, compared to 32,024 cases in 2018. 
  • Chlamydia, the state's leading STD, comprised 24,535 of those cases — a 4% increase from 2018 
  • Gonorrhea, the state's second most common STD, comprised 8,063 cases — a 7% increase
  • Syphilis cases, which increased the most from 2018 at 23%, hit 1,127 in 2019. This includes 385 primary and secondary syphilis cases, which is a 32% increase. 

Additional information about STDs, including screening and other resources, can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health website

The health department recommends regular syphilis screenings for sexually active people and pregnant females.

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