A community meeting will be held next week to address a spike in syphilis cases in the Coachella Valley, particularly in Palm Springs, county health officials announced today.
Countywide, syphilis cases run about 12 per 100,000 people, but the Coachella Valley has 32 cases per 100,000, with especially high numbers in Palm Springs, reaching “well over 100 cases per 100,000,” according to the Riverside University Health System.
North Palm Springs represents the county’s highest syphilis rate at 185 cases per 100,000 people.
The rise in local cases led county health officials to schedule the Riverside County Syphilis Community Collaborative, to be held May 15 in Palm Springs. The meeting is part of the “Spotlight on Syphilis” public initiative to bring awareness to the ongoing rise in cases.
“We’ve reached a critical point with the number of syphilis infections and the public health department can’t fix this by ourselves,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer. “For all the programs we offer, more needs to be done and for that we need the community’s help.”
While officials say funding for public health is waning, they hope collaborative efforts like next week’s meeting will spark local health officials to convene and develop “achievable solutions and goals” to tackle the desert’s syphilis issue.
“We are dealing with tight budgets and resources, so it makes sense to combine resources and work together,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health. “At this point, the health issues facing the community are secondary to the costs.”
The meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Demuth Community Center, 3601 E. Mesquite Ave.