In addition to MSM being disproportionately affected by syphilis, we are also seeing an increase in infections among women. Identification of infections, especially among women of childbearing age, is crucial for the prevention of congenital syphilis, which is transmission to the baby in utero or during delivery. As the number of women infected with syphilis increases, so has the number of congenital syphilis cases, highlighting the importance of our disease investigator specialists’ work to identify, treat and prevent syphilis infections in our community.
Congenital syphilis can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and complications in infants such as blindness and deafness. Untreated early syphilis in women can lead to infection of the fetus in up to 80% of cases, and in up to 40% of cases, stillbirth or death may result. Treatment of pregnant women who deliver after 20 weeks of pregnancy is 98% effective at preventing infection in the baby.
To reduce congenital syphilis cases, the timely investigation of syphilis cases and their sex partners is essential to identifying potentially exposed women of childbearing age. It is also important to screen for syphilis infection during multiple prenatal visits.