On October 5, the Pennsylvania Health Advisory Network (HAN) issued an advisory regarding an increase in reported syphilis cases in Delaware County. 

During the first half of 2021, Delaware County reported 104 Early Syphilis (primary, secondary, or early latent syphilis) cases which has exceeded the total reported number of Early Syphilis for all of 2020. Based on current trends, reported Early Syphilis for 2021 is expected to exceed 210 cases, which will represent a 104% increase from 2020. The projected 210 cases of Early Syphilis reported for 2021 will represent the highest number of cases reported in the county in 20 years.

Females are projected to report 50 cases of Early Syphilis by the end of 2021, which will represent a 178% increase over the 18 cases reported in 2020. Of these female Early Syphilis cases reported in the first half of 2021, women of child-bearing age (ages 15 to 44) represented 84% of the cases. 

Due to the significant increase in syphilis in Delaware County, Pennsylvania Department of Health is recommending pregnant females receive testing for syphilis at the first prenatal visit, third trimester of pregnancy, and at delivery.

Testing Recommendations from Pennsylvania Department of Health

In response to the recent increase in Early Syphilis in Delaware County, the PADOH is recommending the following:

  1. All pregnant females be offered a test for syphilis at the following intervals:
  • All patients with a recent positive test for another sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia need to be tested for syphilis and HIV.
  • All patients presenting 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 and/or on 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 region or the mouth
  • Sudden “Moth-eaten” scalp alopecia with a typical onset at the back of the head
  • Loss of eyelashes and the lateral third of the eyebrows  
  • Generalized lymphadenopathy
  • Malaise 

More information on syphilis including symptoms and treatment can be found here: