Syphilis on the Rise in California

By OBHG Marketing on December 18th, 2017

By: Jane Van Dis, MD, FACOG, OBHG Medical Director for Business Development
This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of the ACOG District IX newsletter.

“Health care providers should have syphilis on their radar and ensure that all pregnant women are tested at the first prenatal visit. Pregnant women with risk factors for syphilis, sporadic prenatal care, drug use, and those living in areas with high syphilis morbidity (particularly in central California) should be tested again for syphilis early in the third trimester and at delivery.”  —Heidi Bauer, MD, CDPH, STD Control Branch Chief

The syphilis crisis in California continues to grow. Ob-gyns are often the first line for women seeking health care and therefore play a key role in education and treatment. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently announced that syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea rates are at a 25-year high in California. The state now has the third highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis and the second highest rate of congenital syphilis nationwide. The following eight counties in California have the highest risk of syphilis infection:

  • Fresno
  • Kern
  • Kings
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Joaquin
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare

In these high-prevalence areas, it is recommended that ob-gyns screen, not only in the first trimester or at the initiation of prenatal care, but additionally, early in the third trimester (28-32 weeks) and again at delivery. Also, any woman who presents with a fetal death after 20 weeks’ gestation should be tested for syphilis. Public health officials in California recommend that no mother or neonate should leave the hospital without documented maternal syphilis status.

Visit the CDPH website to find more information for providers and patients.