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Tippecanoe County, State Seeing A Syphilis Increase


State health officials Friday were pressed into releasing numbers showing a statewide increase in the number of syphilis cases, after the Tippecanoe County Health Department announced a spike.

Tippecanoe County has seen 12 cases of the sexually transmitted disease this year. That’s a big increase over the last four years – none of which registered even five cases for the whole year.

The state’s percentage increase is somewhat smaller, but still significant. State epidemiologist Pam Pontones says there appear to be 53-percent more cases across Indiana than there were in the first nine months of 2014, but officials are still trying to determine where the outbreak started.

“We’ve not identified any particular place where it originated first and may have spread," Pontones says.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler says the rise in popularity of mobile apps where people can seek sexual partners may be partly to blame for his county’s increase in syphilis cases – especially among college students.

“The use of apps like Grindr and so on and so forth is probably more prevalent among college students and college-aged students,” Adler says.

State health officials say they hope to further parse the state’s numbers and release county-by-county statistics in the coming days.