Pennsylvania: Syphilis Cases Increasing in Allegheny County
July 14, 2005
Dr. Bruce Dixon, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said syphilis cases this year have been reported all over the county. The number of cases is rising so rapidly that officials fear the year's total could be the highest in the county in more than a decade.
During the first six months of 2005, 36 cases have been reported, compared to 24 for all of 2004. If the trend continues, the county could see as many as 70 cases this year.
"It is not just an inner-city Pittsburgh issue anymore," said Dixon. Unlike a 2003 outbreak of syphilis in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, centered around New Kensington, the recent upsurge in Allegheny County is widespread.
In addition to rising syphilis cases, gonorrhea and chlamydia are also on the upswing. More than 700 people have reported having gonorrhea so far this year, a rise of about 32 percent. Chlamydia cases have increased 24 percent, to 2,104 so far this year.
The rise in STDs coincides with a cutback in the number of disease intervention specialists employed by the county to track sexual contacts. Dixon said the cutbacks have left the department unable to monitor and effectively report the number of cases.
Of the 36 reported syphilis cases, 25 are men, 12 of whom contracted it through homosexual activity. The 11 female cases were infected through heterosexual intercourse.
Most of the reported syphilis cases are among people in their 30s. One was older than 50 and another was a teen, 15-19 years old.
07.08.05; Moustafa Ayad
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.