L.A.: Health Officials Alerted To Potential Blinding Syphilis Cases
A particularly insidious strain of syphilis that could leave those infected by it blind may have made its way down the West Coast to the gay community in Los Angeles.
Public health officials across the West Coast are urging medical professionals to look out for cases of ocular syphilis – a sexually transmitted disease that can cause blindness – after two potential cases in Los Angeles recently.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an advisory for primary and eye-care providers to look out for symptoms associated with the disease, which is usually a complication of primary or secondary syphilis infections.
With more than a dozen cases – most of them among gay men – reported between Seattle and San Francisco and now potentially two in Southern California, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling for medical professionals to do more.
“These new cases … highlight the importance of ongoing, regular check-ups for sexually active individuals who feel they may be at risk, particularly men who have sex with men," said AHF President Michael Weinstein in a statement.
A rise in ocular syphilis -- which generally affects fewer than one in a million Americans a year in the general population -- was first noticed earlier this year in San Francisco and in Seattle, where two gay men have lost their vision to the disease.