This week, the Linn County Board of Health approved a position statement that calls for increased testing to prevent congenital syphilis.
"This statement reaffirms our commitment to decreasing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Linn County, especially syphilis and congenital syphilis," said Dr. Pramod Dwivedi, Linn County Public Health Director. "Over the past several years, there have been significant increases in the rates of syphilis and congenital syphilis on national, state, and local levels. This statement addresses the rise of congenital syphilis and encourages a viable solution for turning the tide."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2012 and 2021, the number of congenital syphilis cases nationwide increased by 701.5% (334 to 2,677 cases), concurrent with a 642.9% increase (2.1 to 15.6 per 100,000) in the rate of primary and secondary syphilis. According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, there were 11 cases of congenital syphilis in Iowa in 2021 alone, compared to 10 total cases in the 15 years prior.
The position statement encourages local healthcare providers to work with Linn County Public Health by increasing testing for syphilis during pregnancies by adhering to the following recommendations:
- Screening in early pregnancy AND
- Screening at 28 weeks gestation AND
- Screening at delivery for high-risk women, which may include living in a community with high syphilis morbidity or being at risk for syphilis acquisition during pregnancy via drug misuse, diagnosis of STIs during pregnancy, multiple partners, new partners, and partners with STIs AND
- Adhering to recommended treatment regimens by the CDC AND
- Promptly reporting newly diagnosed syphilis cases to local public health
"By joining forces and working together to lower the rates of congenital syphilis, we can achieve the best outcome that benefits mothers, babies, and our entire community," the position statement reads.
The complete Linn County Board of Health position statement on congenital syphilis is available online.