Reported Syphilis cases reach highest it’s been in over 30 years

Reported syphilis cases reach highest it’s been in over 30 years
Published: Jul. 9, 2023 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2023 at 10:38 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Health says Virginia released a statement saying that right now is the highest number of syphilis cases reported in over three decades. Experts said one of the biggest concerns with this spread of syphilis is that it’s infecting more women than ever before – and their babies.

“In 2022, we’ve noticed almost 25 percent increase in cases among women and about 9 percent increase among men,” explained Oana Vasiliu, the STD Prevention and Surveillance Director for the VDH.

In the first four months of 2023, reported cases of syphilis were 22% higher than in the first four months of 2022.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that develops in 4 stages… primary, secondary, latent and tertiary.

“Syphilis is often called ‘the great imitator’ because the signs and symptoms can mimic other health conditions,” she said. “If syphilis progresses to the second stage, it could have a variety of symptoms like rash, hair loss,” said Oana Vasiliu.

As of March 2023, 6 cases of Congenital Syphilis had been reported in Virginia. Congenital Syphilis is when the infection is passed through to the fetus. Not only can this cause organ damage in your body, but it can also cause your baby to have birth defects — or result in a stillbirth.

“Timely diagnosis is very important to have enough time to desensitize and treat to prevent adverse health outcomes for the baby,” she said.

This STI is treatable, mainly by Penicillin.

“That is one of the key things that we can do to prevent transmission in syphilis in the community as well as transmission from.. during pregnancy to the developing fetus of the baby,” said Vasiliu.

If you’re allergic – and not pregnant – there are alternative treatments.

“Doxycycline may be used,” she said.

Although, if you are pregnant, you’d have to become desensitized in order to take the only drug that treats syphilis.

“It’s the only recommended and approved treatment for syphilis during pregnancy,” she said.