By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Oklahoma state health officials report experiencing a 283% increase in the number of congenital syphilis cases in women since 2014. In addition, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is already seeing a 92% increase in the number of cases from 2018 to 2019, and is urging health care providers to test patients during the first and third trimesters.

An infant demonstrating mucous patches and skin lesions resulting from congenital syphilis

Terrainia Harris, an administrative program manager for the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction (SHHR) Service, said it is important for women to be tested at the first prenatal visit or at the time pregnancy is confirmed, and again early in the third trimester.

“The most effective method for getting ahead of this epidemic is early testing and treatment,” said Harris. “The resurgence of syphilis cases in recent years highlights the fact that challenges remain and we are encouraging clinicians to get back to basics with syphilis prevention, testing, and treatment. We are asking them to assist us in focusing efforts to strengthen treatment administration and adherence, as well as improve case identification and reporting.”

Congenital syphilis is an infectious disease transmitted by an infected mother to her baby in the womb. Adults transmit syphilis through sexual contact but mothers can transmit the infection to their baby in the womb or through the birthing process. The disease can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, death shortly after birth, prematurity and birth defects. A woman can be treated and cured for syphilis during pregnancy, but it is important for women to be tested in time for treatment to be effective. Babies who test positive for syphilis at birth must be treated immediately to prevent serious health issues.