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Health Indicator Report of Syphilis Cases - Primary and Secondary

Syphilis is a complex sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium ''Treponema pallidum'' (spp. ''pallidum''). The initial stage (primary syphilis) is characterized by a highly infectious painless open sore, called a chancre, at the site of infection. Chancres occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with the chancre. Sexual transmission can also occur during the secondary stage of syphilis. An infant can acquire syphilis through the placenta if the mother is infected. In later stages of the disease, the bacteria move throughout the body, damaging many organs over time. The open nature of the syphilitic sores makes it easier to acquire HIV, if exposed, or to transmit the virus, if infected. Public health intervention and education measures are crucial in eliminating syphilis.

Primary and Secondary Syphilis Rates per 100,000 by Race and Ethnicity, Utah, 2013


Rates were calculated by dividing the number of cases within a race/ethnicity group by the population in that group and multiplying by 100,000.

Data Sources

  • Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology
  • Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for Counties in Utah, U.S. Bureau of the Census, IBIS Version 2013

Data Interpretation Issues

Reported primary and secondary syphilis rates are calculated by dividing the number of cases within the population of interest by the total number of persons within that population, then multiplying by 100,000. It should be noted that because of the relatively small number of primary and secondary syphilis infections reported in Utah, rates can be volatile: a small change in the number of cases can noticeably change the rate. This change may look significant, but, statistically, it may not be. Caution is strongly recommended when interpreting small case numbers and rates.


Rate of newly reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis by date of diagnosis per 100,000 population.


Number of newly reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis by date of diagnosis.


Utah's total population.

Healthy People Objective STD-7:

Reduce sustained domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis
U.S. Target: Not applicable, see subobjectives in this category

Other Objectives

Related HP2020 Objectives: STD-7: Reduce sustained domestic transmission of primary and secondary syphilis - STD-7.1: Among females (U.S. Target 1.4 new cases per 100,000 population) - STD-7.2: Among males (U.S. Target 6.8 new cases per 100,000 population) STD-8: Reduce congenital syphilis (U.S. Target 9.1 new cases per 100,000 live births)

How Are We Doing?

In 2013, 74 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis were diagnosed and reported in Utah. Twenty-nine of the cases were primary syphilis and forty-five cases were secondary syphilis. The rate for P&S syphilis in 2013 was 2.6 per 100,000 persons, a 73% increase from the rate of 1.5 per 100,000 persons reported in 2012. P&S syphilis rates consistently increased from 2007 until the decrease during 2011, subsequently leading to another large increase in 2012 and 2013. During 2013, 97% of P&S syphilis cases were diagnosed among residents within the Wasatch Front (Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, and Weber Counties); which is consistent with recent years. Salt Lake County Health District had the highest rate of P&S syphilis at 5.8 per 100,000 persons. P&S syphilis cases were primarily diagnosed among men during 2013 at a rate of 5.0 per 100,000 male persons. Males between the ages of 20-39 years were mostly affected (44 cases, 60%). Only two females were diagnosed with P&S syphilis in 2013. One between the ages of 15-19 and 35-39 years. Only 12 females have been reported with P&S syphilis from 2004-2014. During 2013, the P&S syphilis cases were diagnosed primarily among White, non-Hispanic individuals (46 cases) followed by individuals of Multiple-Race (14 cases), Hispanics (9 cases), Black (3 cases), Asian (1 case), and American Indian/Alaskan Native (1 case).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

P&S syphilis rates in Utah have consistently been lower than rates in the U.S., although Utah has experienced several large increases in recent years. The overall 2013 rate for P&S syphilis in the U.S. was 5.3 cases per 100,000 persons, compared to 5.0 cases per 100,000 in 2012. Nationally for 2013, rates were highest among males aged 24 to 29 (27.0 per 100,000 males). Males had a significantly higher rate than females: 9.8 per 100,000 males as compared to 0.9 per 100,000 females [Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, CDC, 2014].

What Is Being Done?

Persons who test positive for syphilis are confidentially interviewed by a local public health nurse to educate the patient, ensure proper treatment, and to obtain sexual partner information for follow-up. This process potentially prevents those diseases reported from being spread and from the patient becoming reinfected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for testing, treatment, and follow-up are adhered to by the Utah Department of Health and the local health departments. The Utah Department of Health Communicable Disease Prevention Program, along with local health departments, currently provides STD presentations upon request to a variety of organizations, agencies, and facilities.

Available Services

The Utah Minor's Consent Law allows adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 years to be tested and treated for an STD without the consent of a parent. Therefore teens are able to utilize clinics available to them confidentially. Many local health districts have STD clinics located at their local health department where adolescents can be tested and treated for STDs at minimal or no cost. Planned Parenthood has locations throughout Utah that also provide STD services at minimal cost. Condoms are also available at these locations. STD presentations are available through the Utah Department of Health upon request. The Utah Department of Health also has information at [].
Page Content Updated On 07/21/2015, Published on 07/21/2015
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 29 November 2015 21:22:24 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:46:20 MDT