Syphilis cases continue to increase in Missouri

St. Louis City and County health departments say there has been a rise of cases among pregnant women.
Medicine and health care.
Medicine and health care.(AP GraphicsBank)
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 4:22 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Syphilis cases continue to increase in Missouri. Over the last 5 years, the St. Louis region has seen a 233 percent increase in cases in the county and 1,000 percent in the city. In 2021, 63 cases of congenital syphilis cases were reported, and this has been the highest number of cases since 1994.

The sexually transmitted infection can have serious complications if left untreated, and it spreads to the brain or the eyes. Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics, but many cases go undiagnosed and untreated.

Officials say health patients and their partners should turn to Missouri healthcare providers to assess their health and discuss STD and HIV risks. Providers should test for syphilis in individuals who have signs or symptoms including rashes. If untreated, congenital syphilis can lead to newborn and childhood illnesses including rashes, fevers, and failure to thrive.

A pregnant woman can transmit syphilis to her child during any stage of the infection and any trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, all pregnant women located in Missouri should be screened for syphilis, according to the St. Louis City and County Health Departments.

Questions should be directed to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis at 573-751-6439, or via email at STD@health.mo.gov.