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State: Group sex may have sparked teen syphilis outbreak

BY SUSAN SIMPSON Published: March 26, 2009
/articleid/3356143/1/pictures/552870">Photo - Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes syphilis, is seen in this image from wikipedia.org.
Treponema pallidum, the bacterium that causes syphilis, is seen in this image from wikipedia.org.
People also can be reinfected after treatment.

Other symptoms are rashes that appear as rough, red, or reddish brown spots on the palms of hands and bottoms of the feet, swollen lymph glands, sore throat and fatigue.

New cases prompt call for education
Greg Heartsill, a disease intervention specialist with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, said he hasn’t heard of teen group sex parties but has seen more teens seeking treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

One teen couple recently learned they had both syphilis and HIV. Other teens diagnosed with diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia never return for treatment. Heartsill said teens may not realize the dangers of unprotected sex.

"They don’t always understand the whole repercussions of having fun,” Heartsill said.

Anita Fream, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, said the outbreak shows the need for comprehensive sex education in schools.

"Teenagers need to know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy,” she said. "They need the right information to make responsible decisions.”


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