Delaware County officials sound the alarm after highest number of early syphilis cases reported in 20 years – CBS Philly

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) – Delaware County officials are sounding the alarm after seeing the highest number of cases of early syphilis reported in the past two decades. They’re worried because the hike isn’t just affecting one demographic – it’s an equal opportunity issue.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says the county is on track to surpass a 104% increase in syphilis infections as of 2020. And an increase in cases is seen across all populations in the county.

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“People under the age of 30 have the highest percentage of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia,” said Lisa O’Mahony, Delaware County medical councilor.

The county is working with the State Department of Health to respond to changing numbers and is increasing testing recommendations in response to an explosion of early syphilis cases.

Now, pregnant women are recommended to be tested for syphilis during their first antenatal visit, in the third trimester of pregnancy, and during childbirth. And it’s not just pregnant women, all patients who recently tested positive should undergo further testing under the new criteria.

“If a person tests positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, they could expand the test to HIV and syphilis so that we capture people who may have multiple infections,” O’Mahony said.

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Youth mentor Shawna Perez-Clark says it’s important to have conversations about safe sex and STD prevention.

“In fact, we prepare packages with condoms. We actually prepare packages with information on condom use, STD awareness, so we distribute them. We hit the sidewalk, ”said Perez-Clark.

Advocates and officials say they are concerned but want to be proactive in connecting people to testing and treatment without being judgmental.

Authorities say you should be tested if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • Macular and / or papular rash on the palms of the hands and / or the soles of the feet
  • A generalized rash that may be macular, papular, or papulosquamous on the back, chest, or stomach
  • A lesion in the genital, rectal or oral area
  • Moist papules in the anogenital area or mouth
  • Sudden “mitée” alopecia of the scalp with a typical onset at the back of the head
  • Loss of eyelashes and the lateral third of the eyebrows
  • Generalized lymphadenopathy
  • Faintness

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For more information on the symptoms and treatment of syphilis, click here.


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