Health Officials in San Diego County Encourage Pregnant Women to Get Screened for Syphilis

Syphilis on the Rise in San Diego County: Pregnant Women Urged to Get Tested and Treated

Pregnant individuals or those planning to become pregnant are being urged by San Diego County public health officials to speak with their healthcare provider about getting screened for syphilis. The number of babies born with syphilis in the county has increased, reaching a record 35 cases in 2022. Syphilis is a contagious bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact or from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, known as congenital syphilis. If left untreated, congenital syphilis can lead to severe health issues in infants and even death.

The rate of congenital syphilis in San Diego County has seen an increase since 2013, with 35 cases reported in 2022 compared to 30 cases in 2021, including two stillbirths. Additionally, cases of syphilis in women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years) have increased from 369 cases in 2021 to 424 cases in 2022. It is crucial for pregnant individuals to get tested for syphilis during their first and third trimester prenatal visits, as treatment during pregnancy can protect the baby from the infection.

Syphilis can have mild symptoms or be mistaken for other health conditions, but it can be effectively treated with antibiotics, even during pregnancy. Sexual partners of individuals with syphilis should also be tested and treated to prevent further transmission. Congenital syphilis in babies can lead to bone abnormalities, severe anemia, organ enlargement, and brain and nerve problems like vision or hearing loss.

Nationwide, cases of syphilis and congenital syphilis have been on the rise since the early 2000s, though there was a slight decrease from 2021 to 2022. Testing for syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases is available at county public health centers to help prevent the spread of infections and protect the health of pregnant individuals and their babies.

It is important for pregnant individuals who are concerned about their risk for syphilis or any other sexually transmitted disease to speak with their healthcare provider about getting tested and receiving proper treatment. Early detection and timely treatment can prevent severe health issues and save lives.

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