BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A rate of 93 cases of congenital syphilis per 100,000 live births, one of the highest in the nation, was reported in Louisiana, where 59 new cases were documented in 2017, according to reports citing information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Baton Rouge and the Shreveport areas had especially high rates of the condition, according to those reports.
Congenital syphilis, which the Louisiana Department of Health describes as “highly preventable,” has the potential to deform or kill babies, with at least 77 of last year’s cases being stillborn or having died. For babies who live after contracting syphilis, they can have deformed bones, skin rashes, severe anemia, jaundice, enlarged livers and spleens, seizures, developmental delays and other neurologic problems, according to a statement made by Deann Gruber, director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases for the Louisiana Department of Health.
The CDC reports, it is possible that a baby born with congenital syphilis won’t have any symptoms at birth, highlighting the importance of preventative care. The CDC recommends that women discuss any new or unusual physical symptoms they are experiencing, as well as any drugs/medicines they’re using, and whether they have new or multiple sex partners. Even if a woman has been tested for syphilis in the past, they should be tested again when they become pregnant and frequently throughout pregnancy in case they are infected after the test.