It has been a long time since there has been much mention of syphilis in medical news but recently there has been a resurgence.
According to a new report by the Atlanta based Centers for Disease Control, there has been a dramatic spike in cases of the disease among newborns in the U.S. The report goes on to say that in recent years, cases of syphilis among newborns — a condition known as congenital syphilis — more than doubled in the U.S., from 362 cases in 2013 to 918 cases in 2017. The latest figures bring total number of congenital syphilis cases reported in the U.S. to be the highest in 20 years.
But newborns aren’t the only segment of the population experiencing an increase in syphilis. Rates among U.S. adults parallel those for infants. For nearly two decades, rates of the disease have increased among men, and rates are now rising among women as well. From 2016 to 2017, cases of syphilis increased 21 percent among U.S. women, the report said.
The report points out that in 2017, congenital syphilis cases were reported in 37 states, but five states accounted for 70 percent of those cases, the CDC said. The five states were California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
According to the CDC, congenital syphilis is a serious problem that can lead to negative health issues that include miscarriage or premature birth, blindness, deafness, or death in newborns. This report points out the need for pregnant women to receive prenatal care, including tests for syphilis.
Early testing is critical to the detection and cure of infections like syphilis before they can cause any irreversible damage. According to Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, too many women are falling through the cracks of the system and that has to change if we hope to reverse the resurgence of congenital syphilis.