In late September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced reported cases of congenital syphilis have more than doubled since 2013.

In Arizona, health officials report from 2016 to 2017, cases of congenital syphilis in Arizona nearly doubled, and are on track to double again this year (2016 – 16, 2017 – 30, YTD 2018 – 36), as of Sept. 25.

This prompted the Arizona Department of Health Services released a Health Alert Network Notification announcing that there is a statewide outbreak of syphilis in women and babies in the state.

Image/National Atlas of the United States
Image/National Atlas of the United States

Congenital syphilis is a preventable condition that results from untreated syphilis during pregnancy. Potential consequences for the infected baby include stillbirth, neonatal death, blindness, deafness and skeletal deformations. Fetal transmission can occur during any trimester.

Health officials recommend:

  • All pregnant women be screened for syphilis at the first prenatal visit or other encounter with the health care setting (e.g. urgent care, emergency department, primary care).
  • Screening must be repeated once early in the third trimester (i.e., 28-32 weeks estimated gestational age) and again at delivery.
  • All pregnant women with a positive screen and diagnosis of syphilis require prompt antibiotic treatment per established guidelines.