According to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), in the last several years, Mississippi has experienced sharp increases in the number of reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Between 2016 and 2020, reported primary and secondary syphilis cases rose by more than 125%, to 741 cases and a rate of 24.9 cases per 100,000 population in 2020, tied for the highest rate among US states.
In addition, Mississippi has seen an even more rapid rise in cases of congenital syphilis during this timeframe, jumping more than 1100% from 2019 to 2020, to 37 reported cases and a rate of 101 cases per 100,000 live births in 2020, ranking eighth nationally.
By comparison, only nine total cases of congenital syphilis were reported in Mississippi between 2016 and 2019. Preliminary data for 2021 demonstrates a continuation of this significant trend.
This has prompted the state to add syphilis infection in pregnancy is explicitly added to the list of Reportable Diseases and Conditions as a Class 1B disease, requiring reporting to the Mississippi State Department of Health by telephone within one business day of first knowledge or suspicion.
In addition, all Mississippi physicians and medical practitioners providing prenatal care to pregnant women are required to:
- Perform syphilis testing for all pregnant people in their first trimester (or at the initial visit for prenatal care) and again in the third trimester (28-32 weeks).
- Perform syphilis testing for all pregnant people at the time of delivery if no documentation of syphilis testing during the current pregnancy is available or the patient has received no prior prenatal care in the current pregnancy.
- Ensure appropriate treatment for syphilis infections during pregnancy, per the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) treatment guidelines (2021 STI Treatment Guidelines – Syphilis: Updated diagnostic, treatment, and screening recommendations for STIs (July 22, 2021)).
- Ensure appropriate reporting of syphilis infection in pregnancy to MSDH.
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