Region sees ‘alarming’ increase in cases of congenital syphilis
DOVER (WJER) (March 28, 2022) – The Tuscarawas County Health Department is sounding the alarm about a rise in syphilis cases in the region.
Communicable Disease Nurse Chelsea Martin says Region 5, which includes Tuscarawas and seven other counties, saw a 45-percent increase in sexually-transmitted cases between 2020 and last year and a 200-percent jump in congenital cases.
“That occurs as it’s spread from a pregnant woman to the baby during pregnancy or at birth, and in the last five years I believe they said we had no cases of congenital syphilis in our region, so to have a 200-percent increase is definitely alarming.”
Martin says syphilis is curable with antibiotics but can result in organ damage and other complications over time so early detection is key.
“Especially with the babies. That’s why they’re wanting to catch these cases early by doing the increased screening on the pregnant moms, because if they can catch that the mom has syphilis before the baby is born or before the pregnancy is over, then they can go ahead and treat mom and that will help prevent transmission to the baby.”
The county health department provides testing for syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases by appointment at its headquarters on East Iron Avenue in Dover and has a sliding-fee scale for patients without insurance. The Ohio Department of Health and America College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommend pregnant women be screened for the disease during their first prenatal visit and again in the third trimester.