GP vigilance urged for syphilis after resurgence

GPs should be more vigilant for cases of syphilis in light of a resurgence of the disease, say US researchers.

Since 1996, syphilis has been on the increase in many northern and western European Union countries.

In the UK, cases were initially observed in larger cities but have now progressed to suburban and rural settings. 

Between 1998 and 2006, UK rates of diagnoses of syphilis in males increased by 20 fold to reach 9 per 100,000 men, according to Health Protection Agency figures.

But despite the increasing number of cases of syphilis, researchers from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta warn that clinicians are struggling to diagnose the disease. 

The researchers say that ‘in developed countries, the low incidence of syphilis over the past two decades and the interactions of the disease with HIV infection have resulted in clinicians who are unfamiliar with the disease's many manifestations'.

They conclude that ‘renewed vigilance among and training of healthcare professionals to help deal with the rise in syphilis' is required.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

The Lancet

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