The recent occurrence of congenital syphilis in Columbus, OH, raised concern for an increase in syphilis among women and infants. The objectives were to examine the rates of syphilis among men, women and infants in Ohio from 2003 to 2016 and compare these rates to the rest of the United States.
This retrospective study evaluated cases of syphilis among men, women and infants from 2003 to 2016 using data from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Ohio from 2003 to 2016, the number of all syphilis cases among women significantly increased from 153 (2.6/100,000) to 294 (5.2/100,000), respectively (b = 0.26; P = 0.001; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.137–0.382). From 2003 to 2016, congenital syphilis in Ohio also increased significantly from 3 (2/100,000) to 13 cases (9.3/100,000), respectively (b = 1.05; P ≤ 0.001; 95% CI: 0.687–1.408). The increase in congenital syphilis mirrored the increase in all cases of syphilis in women but not with the rates of primary and secondary syphilis. Among men, cases of primary and secondary syphilis increased significantly in Ohio and the rest of the United States, from 156 (2.8/100,000) and 5956 (4.2/100,000) in 2003 to 622 (10.5/100,000) and 24,724 (15.6/100,000) in 2016, respectively (Ohio: b = 0.55; P < 0.001; 95% CI: 0.426–0.679; United States: b = 0.77; P < 0.001; 95% CI: 0.629–0.916).
The association of congenital syphilis with all syphilis cases in women highlights the importance of reporting all cases and not just primary and secondary syphilis. The increase in congenital syphilis reinforces the recommendation for repeat maternal screening during pregnancy.