North Carolina faces surge in Congenital Syphilis cases: Health officials on high alert

Visual Representation fir Syphilis pathogen | Credits: Getty Images
Visual Representation fir Syphilis pathogen | Credits: Getty Images

United States: Congenital syphilis has been becoming a concern for the health authorities of North Carolina after six stillbirths and two neonatal deaths were reported. Preliminary data has revealed that the infection is common among infants and small babies.

Health experts have mentioned that the bacterial infection Syphilis is mostly found in men; however, because of its tendency to transmit sexually, the number of cases is on the rise among women – therefore, babies.

HIV/STI medical director for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health – Victoria Mobley, mentioned, “It’s changed the landscape of syphilis in general, but particularly around syphilis in infants.”

Health experts have noted that a newborn baby might not always show any sign or symptom linked with syphilis; however, within weeks or years, it could develop a serious problem if not treated. Some of the health issues faced by an infected child could be developmental delays, vision problems, hearing loss, neurological issues as well as bone abnormalities.

North Carolina health officials are on a high alert!

An alarm may be sounded by North Carolina health officials following the increasing number of congenital syphilis cases. Certain reports also suggested that they have been working hard to reverse the increasing trend, according to northcarolinahealthnews.org.

In the year 2022, the cases related to syphilis suddenly jumped to 53 cases after reaching one (1) in 2000. However, last year, approximately 71 cases were reported, along with six (6) stillbirths and two (2) neonatal deaths, as per the preliminary data.

Accordingly, Mobley presented the data to the members of the state Child Fatality Task Force, as per northcarolinahealthnews.org.

After witnessing an increasing trend of syphilis cases, CDC Chief Medical Officer – Debra Houry stated, “The congenital syphilis crisis in the United States has skyrocketed at a heartbreaking rate. New actions are needed to prevent more family tragedies. We’re calling on healthcare providers, public health systems, and communities to take additional steps to connect mothers and babies with the care they need.”

The CDC is advising healthcare providers to make some changes to catch syphilis cases earlier or prevent them. Some suggestions include starting treatment sooner after a positive rapid test for syphilis and screening sexually active women and their partners in areas with high syphilis rates. Additionally, there’s a federal task force working to reduce syphilis rates.

How can congenital syphilis affect an infected person?

Congenital Syphilis is considered a highly contagious bacterial infection, which can be easily transferred from the mother to the newborn baby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some of the outcomes of the infection could be:

• Miscarriage

• Stillbirth

• Premature birth

• Low birth weight

• Death shortly after birth

However, if a baby is born, he/she could suffer from:

• Skin rashes

• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

• Severe anemia (low red blood cell count)

• Deformed bones

• Enlarged liver and spleen

• Meningitis (infection/inflammation of tissue surrounding the spinal cord and brain)

• Brain and nerve problems (including blindness or deafness)

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