Reports of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Missoula County. Missoula City-Count Health Department Infectious Disease Specialist Brad Applegate monitors all kinds of infectious diseases, everything from salmonella to anthrax and says he’s noticed some disturbing trends.

“I can say that just anecdotally I have looked at my line-list and it just seems there is a big increase in chlamydia and gonorrhea,” Applegate said. “Chlamydia is the most common. We work with roughly 64 diseases that are reportable. Of all those reportable diseases, the number one disease in the county, state, and national level is chlamydia. What is really scary is that syphilis is on the rise big time. It is about a four time increase from last year.”

Applegate says that syphilis is especially troubling because most people don’t realize when they have it.

“Syphilis creeps on with what is called a shanker and it is like a little puss filled ulcer that might appear on the genitalia or around the mouth and it is painless,” Applegate said. “If you ignore it for a week or two it will go away and then it comes back a couple weeks or a couple months later as a rash and then it can stay dormant for a long time in the body. It is easy to treat with a simple dose of penicillin, but it is tricky for people to identify.”

Applegate says he’s even seen an increase in HIV cases in Missoula recently, though the number of those is less than five.

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