Syphilis is nothing new. "Syphilis has been a problem in Escambia County for as long as the Escambia County Department of Health has been around which is 193 years" said Dr. John Lanza, the director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. But over the past four years the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease in Escambia County has risen dramatically.
Dr. Lanza said there were 37 cases of Syphilis in Escambia county in 2008 and only 20 in 2009. But in 2011 that number had more than tripled to 107. There were 106 cases of the sexually transmitted disease in 2012 and preliminary number for 2013 show 101 cases in the county.
The Department of Health has been studying the rising infection rates, and while they have not come to a conclusion about the cause of the outbreak...they have put together a profile of those who are most at risk. The rise is mostly in the 20 to 34 year old age group, African-American with an increasing risk in female African-Americans. There is a concentration of risk in the 32505 zip code area of town.
Syphilis is a highly contagious STD, which can be transmitted through intercourse or oral contact. If it is diagnosed early, a single shot of penicillin is usually all the treatment that's needed. In its later stages, several courses of antibiotics may be necessary. Left untreated, Syphilis can be life threatening
The next day free testing for Syphilis will be done is Tuesday, April 8...and will continue on the second Tuesday of each month at the offices of HIV evolution, 113 North Palafox Street in Pensacola.