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Nevada has nation's 4th-highest rate of babies born with syphilis

Newborn Baby Hand
Posted at 2:37 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 18:12:30-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada saw an increase in babies born with syphilis in 2020, data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Nationwide, Nevada remains in the top 10 for cases of congenital syphilis — when the disease is passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth.

The state reported 46 cases in 2020, which translates to a rate of 131.2 cases per 100,000 live births. It's a 12% increase from data the CDC reported in 2019, Reno's KOLO-TV reported.

Statewide, Washoe County ranks highest for cases of primary and secondary syphilis, as well as cases of congenital syphilis, KOLO's Freixys Casado reported.

"What we see is a lot of the women that have syphilis, that have babies have not had consistent or any prenatal care," Jennifer Howell, sexual health program coordinator for Washoe County told KOLO.

The rise of congenital syphilis in Nevada is part of a larger increase across the country, according to the CDC. Cases have "more than tripled in recent years," the CDC says. More than 2,000 were reported in 2020, the highest number reported in one year since 1994.

Last year, the Nevada legislature passed a bill to require emergency rooms, hospitals and other medical facilities admitting pregnant women to examine for syphilis.

Washoe County is also working on a pilot program to "screen all people with child-bearing capacities, so people born as females, for syphilis upon booking"in the county's jail, Howell told KOLO.

Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. Pregnant women who test positive are advised to seek treatment as soon as possible.