Philadelphia Inquirer (02.25.10) - Thursday, February 25,
The Philadelphia Department of Health on Wednesday issued an
alert to health care providers prompted by a 360 percent
increase in infectious syphilis among young women in the city
In 2009, 218 cases were recorded in females, including 23
among those ages 15-29. That compares to 150 cases in 2008,
including five in females in their prime childbearing years -
a special concern because congenitally transmitted syphilis
can cause mental retardation, physical deformities, and death.
Four cases of congenital syphilis were logged in Philadelphia
Females ages 15-40 who have had more than one sexual partner
in the past year should be screened annually, the department
Men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to account for the
majority of Philadelphia's syphilis cases, including 69
percent of the 2009 total. The health department repeated its
recommendation that sexually active MSM be screened for the
infection every three to four months.
Dr. William R. Short, an infectious-disease expert at Thomas
Jefferson University Hospital, said providers and women need
to take the new screening recommendation seriously, given the
risk of congenital abnormalities caused by the STD.
On Feb. 25, the PNU summary of the Philadelphia Inquirer's
article "Syphilis Among Young Women on the Rise in Philadelphia"
incorrectly stated the number of cases recorded among females in
the city. The case counts reported - 218 in 2009, and 150 in 2008
- were for all cases of primary and secondary syphilis in
Philadelphia, not for cases among females only. Females
represented eight cases in 2008 and 27 cases in 2009.
(Source: CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update - March 4, 2010)