By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reports 361 cases of syphilis in 2020, representing a 49% increase over 2019 (n=242).


Of these, 306 (85%) cases were in the primary, secondary, or early latent stages, and 47 (13%) cases were in the late latent stage or of unknown duration.

55% percent of the cases were in males while 45% were female. Six out of 10 of the male cases were in men who self identified as men who have sex with women (MSW).

Eight cases were classified as congenital syphilis. All eight of the infants identified with congenital syphilis were delivered to mothers who reported inconsistent or no prenatal care and were treated for syphilis <30 days prior to their infant’s delivery. Six (75%) of the infants demonstrated two or more indicators/symptoms consistent with syphilis infection.

Alaska’s syphilis outbreak was first declared in early 2018, and case counts have increased annually ever since. Congenital syphilis cases are at a record high.

Health officials say the primary drivers of this increase were more cases in heterosexual men and women, more cases in persons reporting illicit drug use (a risk factor for syphilis acquisition) and a lack of consistent prenatal care.