THE SACRAMENTO BEE:
The number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases in California reached a record high last year and officials are particularly concerned by a spike in stillbirths due to congenital syphilis, state health authorities said Monday.
More than 300,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 2017, a 45 percent increase from five years ago, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are most common among people under 30, the report said. Rates of chlamydia are highest among young women, while men account for the majority of syphilis and gonorrhea cases.
If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy and chronic pelvic pain. Syphilis can result in blindness, hearing loss and neurologic problems.
The figure that caused the greatest alarm for researchers and administrators was 30 stillbirths resulting from congenital syphilis statewide — the highest number reported since 1995, the CDPH said. Los Angeles County alone saw congenital syphilis cases jump from eight in 2013 to 47 last year.
“For California to have a steady increase in congenital syphilis is shameful,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles. He pointed to nations such as Cuba, Thailand and Belarus that have nearly eliminated the life-threatening infection seen in infants.
“We’ve known how to control syphilis since early 1900s. Seeing it come back like this is a sign of failure of the public health safety net,” Klausner said.