April 2024 Edition

Important Community Health News

Syphilis Stalks the Sunflower State

by Meagan Rico, MSN, RN, Health Educator

In the heart of America's breadbasket, a silent but concerning disease is spreading over the Sunflower State. Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that was once thought to be a relic of the past, has made a surprise resurgence in Kansas. This insidious infection, with its ability to lurk undetected for years, has risen over 80% and is becoming a growing public health concern, demanding increased attention and action.

Syphilis is a serious bacterial infection that, if left untreated, can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening complications. The disease progresses through distinct stages, often beginning with a painless sore, followed by a rash and other symptoms that can affect multiple organ systems. The consequences of this syphilis surge can be severe for vulnerable populations, like infants, and data has confirmed the rise in congenital syphilis cases, where the infection is passed from mother to child during pregnancy.

Kansas is not alone; the United States has seen an overall 28.6% increase nationwide between 2020 and 2021. The factors driving this syphilis epidemic are multifaceted, but experts point to a combination of reduced access to STI testing and treatment services, increased risky sexual behaviors, and social determinants of health, such as poverty and lack of access to healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, as public health resources have been diverted and many STI clinics have had to scale back or suspend operations.

There is still hope. Syphilis is a treatable condition, and with proper testing and treatment, it poses no long-term health risks. We must work to destigmatize syphilis and encourage open, non-judgmental conversations about sexual health. Syphilis can happen to anyone, and seeking testing and treatment should be normalized, not stigmatized.

Regular syphilis testing is crucial for early detection and treatment. We urge everyone, regardless of sexual activity, to get tested for syphilis as part of their routine sexual health screenings. Early treatment is highly effective and can prevent the serious complications of untreated syphilis.

Join us in our effort to reduce syphilis stigma and increase testing and treatment. Here's how you can help:

  • Know your risk and consider getting tested for syphilis regularly and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
  • Educate yourself and others about syphilis - how it's transmitted, its symptoms, and the importance of testing and treatment.
  • Speak up against syphilis stigma when you encounter it. Challenge misconceptions and promote understanding.
  • Support organizations and initiatives working to improve syphilis education, testing access, and treatment.

Together, we can overcome the syphilis epidemic and create a healthier, more informed community and State. Take action today.

April Employee Spotlight

Laura Adkins came to work as a home health nurse for the Saline County Health Department in January of this year and is an exceptional caregiver who exemplifies the values of the home health agency. Laura is genuinely caring and passionate about her work, ensuring that each of her patients receives the best possible care. She provides skilled nursing care, delivers essential patient care education, and ensures follow-up care for patients and their families right in the comfort of their homes. As a nurse, Laura specializes in wound care and Geriatric care.

Home Health Coordinator, Christi Ponton shares "Laura brings so much to our home health team. Her dedication to our patients is admirable, and it shows in the care that she provides. She is truly making a difference here at the Health Department and in the lives of our patients. We are so fortunate to have her."

When asked about her favorite aspect of working for the health department, Laura shared, “I love working for the health department because I can spend adequate time caring for my patients. I get to know my patients and their families enough to provide personalized care for each of them. I also really enjoy working for the health department because we serve community members who cannot find home healthcare anywhere else. My supervisor Christi is wonderful to work for because she truly believes in a healthy work/family life balance. She is extremely supportive.”

Outside of work, Laura enjoys spending time with her mother, three daughters, and her seven grandchildren. Laura is a jack of all trades through her pursuit of baking cookies, decorating her home, and her continued interest in cutting and styling hair. That’s right, she is also a licensed cosmetologist! We are thrilled to have her on our team. Thank you for the important work that you do in our community.

Upcoming Events and Activities for April & May


County Government Month..........all month long

Child Abuse Prevention Month..........all month long

National Public Health Week.......April 1st-8th

Week of the Young Child..........April 8th-12th

National STI Awareness Week..........April 14th-20th

National Drug Endangered Children Awareness Day..........April 24th

KWU Wellness Fair..........April 24th


National Mental Health Awareness Month..........all month long

Salina Women's Fair..........May 9th

2nd Annual Youth Out of School Summer Bash..........May 24th



WIC Support Programs

Coffee with WIC!

Join the WIC breastfeeding specialist on the 1st & 3rd Friday of every month for coffee! This is an opportunity to learn more about breastfeeding classes and support groups and schedule a one-on-one breastfeeding time.

Breastfeeding Support Group

Every first Wednesday of the month, the WIC program will provide a safe and supportive space for breastfeeding moms and their babies.

Learn More about WIC's Free Services 
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