Mississippi reports more than 1100% rise in congenital syphilis, Prompts immediate action


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According to the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH), in the past several years, Mississippi has seen sharp increases in the number of reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Between 2016 and 2020, reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis increased by more than 125%, reaching 741 cases and an average of 24.9 cases per 100,000 population in 2020, tied for the highest rate between the states of America.

Image/Robert Herrmann

Additionally, Mississippi experienced a rapid rise in cases of congenital syphilis during this time frame, jumping more than 1,100% from 2019 to 2020, to 37 reported cases and a rate of 101 cases per 100,000 live births in 2020, ranking second Eighth nationally. .

By comparison, only nine cases of congenital syphilis were reported in Mississippi between 2016 and 2019. Preliminary data for 2021 shows a continuation of this significant trend.

This prompted the state to explicitly add syphilis infection during pregnancy to its list of notifiable diseases and conditions as a Class 1b disease, requiring that the Mississippi Department of Health be reported by telephone within one business day of first knowledge or suspicion.

In addition, all Mississippi physicians and medical practitioners who provide prenatal care to pregnant women are required to:

  • All pregnant women have a syphilis test in the first trimester (or at the initial antenatal care visit) and again in the third trimester (28-32 weeks).
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at the time of delivery if there is no documentation of syphilis testing during the current pregnancy or if the patient did not receive prenatal care in the current pregnancy.
  • Ensure appropriate treatment of syphilis infection during pregnancy, in accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) treatment guidelines (2021 STD Treatment Guidelines – Syphilis: Updated Diagnostic, Treatment, and Screening Recommendations for STDs (July 22, 2021)).
  • Ensure appropriate reporting of syphilis infection during pregnancy to MSDH.

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