RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The Free Speech Coalition on its blog today noted that Riverside County’s Health Department has expressed concerns with a rising number of syphilis cases, specifically within the Palm Springs area.
“We encourage all performers who have visited the area to be extra vigilant about the signs and symptoms of syphilis,” the FSC said today in a PASS advisory.
The spread of syphilis has been a growing concern in California and nationally for several years. In Coachella Valley, where Palm Springs sits, the rate of infection is nearly three times the rate countywide.
In Riverside County, the rate is about 12 cases per 100,000 population, according to the latest figures. However, the rate for the Coachella Valley is 32 per 100,000, and in Palm Springs that figure is well over 100 cases per 100,000. Specifically, in North Palm Springs, that number soars to 185 cases per 100,000 population.
Men make up more than 90 percent of all syphilis cases in the county, officials said. While whites make up the highest number of syphilis cases in the Coachella Valley, blacks have the highest rate of infection at 67.1 per 100,000 population.
The FSC, via the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, posted a description of the primary, secondary and latent stages of syphilis:
- Primary syphilis: A painless sore (or sores) called a chancre appears on, around, or inside the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. The chancre appears 10 days to three months after exposure. The sore is full of bacteria and is very infectious. Many people never notice the chancre because it may be inside the vagina or somewhere else hard to see or feel. Chancres generally last two to six weeks and then disappear on their own.
- Secondary syphilis: A few weeks after the chancres disappear, or sometimes at the same time, a rash may appear on the body, hands, and/or feet. The rash is infectious and can look like other rashes and even wart-like growths. Other symptoms may include mild fever, sore throat, wart-like growths on the genitals, or clumpy hair loss. These symptoms may go away quickly or come and go for about a year.
- Latent syphilis: A year after infection, all symptoms usually disappear on their own and the person is no longer infectious to sex partners. However, the disease is still in the body, and if not treated can cause serious complications years later.