Newborn syphilis cases surging

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There is an alarming increase in sexually transmitted diseases as the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States is skyrocketing, and health officials are sounding the alarm.

Efforts are underway at the state and local levels to prevent newborn syphilis cases and stop babies from being born with the painful and sometimes deadly disease.

Syphilis is primarily a sexually transmitted disease, but the CDC is reporting a dire increase in babies being born with it.

Pennsylvania’s acting Secretary of Health Doctor Debra Bogen joined the Wilkes-Barre City Health Department Monday to raise awareness about newborn syphilis.

“Testing is critical. It’s possible for people to have it, syphilis, and not know it because the symptoms can be mild, or they can mirror other illnesses,” Dr. Bogen explained.

Untreated syphilis in pregnancy can result in miscarriage and stillbirth. While it is curable, babies born with newborn syphilis can have a host of serious and lasting medical conditions.

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“Our team and our nurses are on it to make sure that the child is getting the testing that it needs for diagnosis, the appropriate and adequate treatment, as well as outreach to the parents because it does have an impact on the parents, it’s a very stressful situation,” said Wilkes-Barre City Health Department Associate Director of Personal Health Kady McGlynn.

For adults, treatment often involves taking penicillin. Dr. Bogen believes having conversations like this can lessen the stigma surrounding the disease.

“It’s really important people be willing and open to talk with their healthcare providers and with their partners so that we can actually reduce the spread,” said Dr. Bogen.

The Wilkes-Barre City Health Department has a syphilis clinic that offers free and confidential testing.

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