Syphilis cases on the rise in city

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Cases of syphilis have increased in New York City over the years and represent the one major negative spot in a generally improved group indicators of city health, according to the latest management report issued Friday by City Hall.

New cases of syphilis in fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, 2012, were 903, an increase over 456 and 805 cases in fiscal years 2003 and 2007 respectively, according to city data. The pace of new cases also doesn't appear to be slackening: the city recorded 328 new cases between July and October of last year, compared with 307 in the same period of 2011.

"There was a 7 percent increase in syphilis cases between July-Oct. 2011 and July-Oct. 2012," said the city Health Department in a statement. The increase was attributed to unprotected sex between two men, the statement said.

Officials said the department will continue to monitor reports and activities to prevent additional disease transmission, including testing or treating partners of individuals diagnosed with syphilis.

Medical experts said syphilis is on the rise in a number of large cities worldwide. One medical journal also recently reported that the U.S. increase was driven in part by growing cases of the disease among men who have sex with men.

But other health indicators show long-term improvements. The report showed a drop in infant mortality to 4.7 per 100,000 births in fiscal year 2012, compared with rates of 6.0 and 5.9 in fiscal years 2003 and 2007 respectively. Officials said advances in newborn medical care have helped keep more premature infants alive in the past 20 years.

Virtually all public school children, 99.1 percent, had received required inoculations in the 2012 fiscal year.

In terms of smoking, the city estimates that 14.7 percent of adults were smoking in fiscal 2012, compared with 21.5 percent in fiscal 2003.

New tuberculosis cases also have seen a sharp drop over time. The report said there were 1,084 cases in fiscal 2003, compared with 717 in fiscal 2012.

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