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Health Advisory: Syphilis Treatment Impacted by Bicillin L-A Shortage

Published July 5, 2023.

Penicillin G benzathine (Bicillin L-A) is in short supply due to increased demand. Reserve Bicillin L-A for pregnant people with or exposed to syphilis, or babies with congenital syphilis. Read on for syphilis: 

  • Treatment.
  • Awareness campaign.
  • Testing with reverse algorithm.

Reserve Bicillin L-A for pregnant people. 

Reserve Bicillin L-A to treat pregnant people and babies with congenital syphilis.
CDC recommends the following syphilis treatment during the shortage:

  • Early latent: doxycycline 100mg twice daily for 14 days.
  • Late latent or unknown duration: doxycycline 100mg twice daily for 28 days.

Contact us to see if the patient really needs syphilis treatment. Some people will continue to test positive for syphilis even after correct treatment.

If your facility does not have enough Bicillin L-A for someone who needs treatment, the Health Department may be able to assist.

View our new syphilis testing campaign.

Test people age 45 or younger who have sex.

We’re launching a public-facing syphilis awareness campaign and provider resources page. You may see ads on billboards, social media, or in the movie theater. The campaign encourages anyone 45 or younger who has sex to get tested.

Syphilis has quadrupled.

In Pierce County, syphilis cases quadrupled from 2016 (58 cases) to 2021 (243 cases). Congenital syphilis cases increased from 2 in 2020 to 14 in 2021.

Syphilis is increasing in all groups, especially in heterosexual people.

“Syphilis isn’t Extinct” is one of the ads in our campaign.
“Syphilis isn’t Extinct” is one of the ads in our campaign.

We recommend testing using the reverse algorithm.

It’s what the Washington Public Health Lab uses. It can be more cost-efficient, too. Learn more about the reverse testing algorithm on our provider page.

Report suspected or confirmed cases within 3 days. 

Fax an STD report form to (253) 649-1389. For more information, see our STD page

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