Medical practitioners in the United States are worried about the rise in congenital syphilis cases. Congenital syphilis is syphilis passed along to the fetus by the mother and can be fatal. Babies born with the condition are severely anaemic with bodies covered in rashes and lungs full with fluid. In most cases, the newborns die minutes after birth with others making it to a few days or weeks old.
In other cases, they do survive but they carry an increased risk of long-term health problems. Interestingly, the majority of the mothers arrive at the hospital ready to give birth to their newborns without having gone through prenatal care and unaware that they have syphilis. The situation is made worse by the fact that they do not know that they could pass the infection to their children which could be quite dangerous let alone the consequences that accompany undetected and untreated syphilis.
The situation is made worse by the fact that they do not know that they could pass the infection to their children which could be quite dangerous let alone the consequences that accompany undetected and untreated syphilis.
Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high in the U.S according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, the rise in syphilis cases among women rose by 27% as compared to 2014 with those of congenital syphilis rising by 6%.
The situation is reported to continue to deteriorate in 2016 according to preliminary data that suggests another rise by 21% with congenital syphilis increasing by 4%. The statistics are worrisome especially because there was hope that syphilis would be a thing of the past in the U.S.
According to the state Department of Public Health, two-thirds of the cases of syphilis in the state of California are among men who have sex with men. Nevertheless, the number of women who got the infection increased by up to four times from 2011 to 2015 with those of congenital syphilis increasing by up to three times in the same period.
Fresno and Kern counties were responsible for almost half of the syphilis cases in 2015. California is said to have the second-highest rate syphilis in the U.S after Louisiana which created strategies to respond to the increased rate 4 years ago. Congenital syphilis cases have now declined after the implementation of a number of strategies to curb the problem.
Reasons for Increased Cases of Syphilis
Health officials are yet to ascertain the main reason behind the spike in syphilis cases but believe that late or no prenatal care to be a contributing factor. As mentioned before, it is not a wonder to find women at health institutions ready to give birth without having been given any prenatal care yet it is during prenatal care visits that an expectant mother is required to test for syphilis at least once before giving birth.
Additionally, the officials also believe that lack of information on syphilis or congenital syphilis alike could be responsible for the rise. Accounts have been given of women who walk into hospitals without ever hearing about syphilis or congenital syphilis and their consequences health-wise.
Other factors that may contribute to the problem include poverty, use of drugs that may lead to risky sexual activities and changes in sexual behaviour such as low numbers of people who use condoms during sex as well as a trend to have multiple partners.
In conclusions, changes to legislation such as making testing for syphilis mandatory for expectant women at least twice before giving birth, increasing public awareness and testing sites for STDs, the rates might be reduced to a controllable number.