State, CDC report spike in syphilis cases across KY

Republished from WEKU.

Cases of congenital syphilis, which is passed down from mothers to newborns, are increasing even faster. The state reports a 169 percent increase during that same time period, with 35 cases among newborns. In 2012, only two cases of congenital syphilis were reported statewide.

That spike follows a national trend, according to recent data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Reported cases of syphilis nationwide have increased by 78.9 percent from 2018 to 2022. Congenital syphilis cases have increased by 183.4 percent over that same period.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack says there’s no clear single explanation for why cases are increasing, but factors like less available treatment during the COVID-19 lockdown and a shortage of penicillin could be factors.

“It’s really important that the pharmaceutical industry figure out what they need to do to supply a sufficient amount of penicillin,” Stack said. “This is a real public health crisis, and unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has not been able to meet the need.”

Stack says Kentucky is currently ranked 29th out of all 50 states. In the meantime, he says the best way to prevent new cases is by practicing safe sex.

“You should use condoms to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Stack said. “You should also, had you engaged in sexual activity with multiple partners, get tested for these diseases periodically to lower the risk of having them and being unaware.”

Stack recommends that anyone pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant should also get tested regularly.

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.