Kansas sees rise in syphilis cases, newborns with disease

Laverne Higgins
October 9, 2019

2018 saw yet another record high for STDs in the country, with reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis climbing for the fifth straight year. Rates of all 3 sexually transmitted diseases increased among males and females in all racial and ethnic groups across the nation.

Some of the gaps and missed opportunities are in prenatal care, according to the report there is a 39.7% year over year spike in the rate of congenital syphilis, this occurs when it is passed on from the mother to infant during pregnancy and can cause serious health issues as well as infant death; there were 94 infants deaths and stillbirths due to syphilis according to the report. Young people and gay and bisexual men are using condoms less, in part because pre-exposure prophylaxis medications that can prevent HIV transmission are more broadly available.

Torrone said, "As the STD epidemic continues to grow in the United States, the direct medical costs and the quality of life lost will just increase as well".

Pregnant women with syphilis can pass the infection to the fetus they're carrying.

And, noted the CDC, they are seeing an alarming rise in newborn deaths from congenital syphilis, with almost 100 infants dying of the disease in 2018.

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In 2018, there were an astounding 35,000 confirmed cases of the disease. Between 2017 and 2018, cases of congenital syphilis increased 40 per cent, with more than 1,300 in 2018; deaths increased 22 per cent as well, with 94 deaths in 2018.

The increases coincided with public health funding cuts and clinic closures.

Rates of gonorrhea reached their the highest number since 1991, increasing five percent between 2017 and 2018.

Local health departments play a crucial role in preventing the spread of STDs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Tuesday. Scientists worry antibiotic resistance may be a factor. Then, health-department employees have to follow up with them to be sure they get treated-with as many as three doses of an antibiotic. The CDC has screening recommendations on all three diseases, as well as HIV and hepatitis B. "People should feel empowered to ask, 'Which STDs should I be tested for?'" she said. We also call on HHS to ensure that its Federal Action Plan on STIs, announced earlier this year, is finalized and implemented urgently.

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