Health Alert: Congenital Syphilis in New Hampshire

On September 30, 2019, NH DHHS issued a health alert update on congenital syphilis in New Hampshire.

KNH Division of Public Health Services Health Alert Networkey Points and Recommendations:

  1. Three infants with probable congenital syphilis have been born to New Hampshire (NH) residents from May 2018 through September 2019. These are the first congenital syphilis cases reported in NH since 2013. 
  2. NH has experienced a 196% increase in cases of infectious syphilis, from 54 cases reported in 2014 to 106 cases in 2018. This has resulted in a number of syphilis infections in pregnant women within the last couple of years. 
  3. Routine screening of pregnant women is necessary to prevent congenital syphilis; however, some women with initial negative tests are at risk of acquiring syphilis later in pregnancy. Therefore, healthcare providers need to assess patient risk factors at all prenatal visits. 
  4. All women should undergo serologic screening for syphilis early in pregnancy, ideally at the time pregnancy is confirmed or the first prenatal visit. 
  5. Women at increased risk for syphilis (e.g. women diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease during pregnancy; exchanging sex for drugs, money, or other services; unprotected sex with multiple sex partners; a new sex partner; illicit drug use, etc.) should be re-tested early in the third trimester (28-32 weeks) and again at delivery. 
  6. The mother or neonate should not leave the hospital after delivery without the mother’s syphilis serologic status having been documented at least once during pregnancy, and if the mother is considered high-risk, documented again at delivery. 
  7. Any woman with a fetal death after 20 weeks gestation should be tested for syphilis. 
  8. Sex partners of patients diagnosed with syphilis should be connected with medical care for testing and treatment. 
  9. Please report all cases of syphilis to the NH Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496 (after hours 603-271-5300 and ask for the public health professional on call).

Read the Full DHHS Alert