Pennsylvania reports most syphilis cases in three decades

By NewsDesk @bactiman63

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) reports historic levels of early syphilis and congenital syphilis in 2022.


In a health advisory last week, PADOH reports in the first 10 months of calendar year (CY) 2022 that the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) reported 11 cases of congenital syphilis (excluding Philadelphia).

Based on current trends, PADOH projects that Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia) will report 14 cases of congenital syphilis by the end of CY 2022. The 14 projected cases of congenital syphilis would represent the largest number of cases of congenital syphilis reported in Pennsylvania (exclusive of Philadelphia) since 1990.

The main driver for the increase in congenital syphilis has been the recent increase in the total number of early syphilis cases in women, with cases projected for CY 2022 for Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia) expected to exceed 257 female cases with 86% of cases in female reproductive age, 15-44 years.

The projected total number of early syphilis cases is 1,362 in Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia). This would represent the highest number of syphilis cases since 1990.

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In response to recent increases in global congenital syphilis and early syphilis among
females, PADOH recommends the following:

1. All pregnant women should be offered testing for syphilis at the following intervals:

  • At the first prenatal visit
  • In the third trimester of pregnancy
  • At the birth of a child, or
  • At the delivery of a stillborn child

2. All persons who have recently tested positive for another sexually transmitted disease such as
gonorrhea or chlamydia should be tested for syphilis. All people with a recent positive test
for another sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia should be tested for
syphilis and HIV at any time of pregnancy and in addition to routine testing
recommendations for everyone.

3. All people with any of the following symptoms or conditions should be tested
for syphilis:
• A macular and/or papular rash on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
• A generalized skin rash which may be macular, papular or papulosquamous on the back, chest,
or stomach
• A lesion in the genital, rectal or oral area
• Wet papules in the anogenital area or mouth
• Sudden “moth-eaten” scalp alopecia with typical onset at the back of the head
• Loss of eyelashes and lateral third of eyebrows
• Generalized lymphadenopathy
• Faintness

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