The data reveals over 115,000 syphilis cases in that time period and over 580,000 cases of gonorrhea, neither of which have seen levels this high since 1991.
Louisiana was ranked #7 in the nation for primary and secondary syphilis case rates, declining from #3 in 2017; #3 in congenital syphilis, declining from #1 in 2017; and #5 in gonorrhea, declining from #3 in 2017. The agency called a 40% increase in congenital syphilis from 2017 to 2018 "a risky trend" and said syphilis in newborns is a tragic outcome of what it described as a growing STD epidemic. The state had only a single reported case from 2013 through 2017.
Kansas had eight cases of newborns being born with syphilis in 2018. Contributing to raised risks of HIV infection and to increased healthcare costs, the numbers represent damaging impacts to public, as well as individual, health.
"There are tools available to prevent every case of congenital syphilis", said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC's Division of STD Prevention, in a statement to the CDC.
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The CDC gives a handful of possible explanations for the increase in STD rates. All three diseases can be cured with antibiotics, but only if the patient seeks medical help. Combine that with risk factors such as drug use and poverty, as well as reductions in STD awareness programs at both the state and local levels across the USA, and you have a recipe for record-breaking STD numbers.
Needs for increased funding for sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for investments in improved surveillance and for attention to ensure essential public health services are accessible, are clearly spelled out in the report. Scientists worry antibiotic resistance may be a factor. If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.