U.S. syphilis cases are rising, including congenital syphilis, and doctors warn they're struggling to find a crucial antibiotic. And that includes here in our valley.
According to the CDC, reported cases of syphilis among babies in the U.S. increased more than 200 percent from 2017 to 2021.
In Riverside County, public health officials say in 2021 there were 42 cases of congenital syphilis which is a nearly 56-percent increase of cases in the county since 2019.
Among adults, in 2021 there were 869 reported cases of syphilis in the county which is more than double the number of cases in 2017.
The majority of those cases occurred among men who have sex with men.
Complicating matters, an ongoing shortage of the antibiotic used to treat syphilis, called bicillin, has become a significant problem.
"Why do you think we are seeing a spike?" Peter Daut asked Dr. Phyllis Ritchie, CEO & founder of PS Test.
Ritchie answered, "It's interesting. It seemed to happen between 2017 to 2021, we started seeing a spike in pre-COVID. And there has been a deterioration with the public health department. We don't have enough money from the government, etc."