‘Cluster Outbreak’ Causes 125 Milwaukee Residents to Contract HIV, Syphilis

A “cluster outbreak” has caused at least 125 people in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to contract sexually-transmitted diseases such as HIV and syphilis.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a significant number of people who caught HIV, syphilis, or both were high school students who contracted the diseases through “infection clusters.”

Although less than ten percent of the 125 individuals who tested positive went to public schools in Milwaukee, health officials say that number is likely to go up.

“This is an epidemic people are not talking about enough, and it leads to people taking unnecessary risks,” public health consultant Melissa Ugland said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a “cluster” is “an unusual aggregation” of diseases that are “grouped together in time and place.”

Ugland said health officials were able to identify this cluster because they were able to find connections between the patients — all who came in contact with each other over the past 12 months.

High school students were not the only ones who contracted the diseases. The Milwaukee Health Department tweeted Tuesday that three infants in the city contracted syphilis.

Ugland said the number of those with sexually-transmitted diseases in the city is likely to grow as public health officials track down more people.

“(The cluster) was still considered ongoing; they were continuing to try to track down some folks,” she said.


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