There is currently a statewide outbreak of syphilis in Arizona, a bacterial infection that is usually spread by sexual contact.

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

Medical providers are seeing the largest increase of syphilis cases in women and newborns. A pregnant woman can pass syphilis to her unborn child, which is called congenital syphilis.

Congenital syphilis can lead to problems with the skin, eyes and brain, stillbirth or infant death. Up to 40 percent of untreated syphilitic pregnancies result in stillbirth or newborn death.

In a follow-up on a report in early October, Arizona state health officials report the number of congenital syphilis cases, or syphilis cases in babies has risen to 45 as of today.

Of this total, eight baby deaths have been reported.

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Since January 2015, the monthly average of syphilis cases in women have increased by more than 250 percent, with 637 cases reported year-to-date.

Arizona Department of Health recommends pregnant women discuss their risk with a health care provider and get tested. Getting timely testing and treatment can reduce negative health outcomes for mother and baby.