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First case of congenital syphilis reported in Maine in nearly three decades

The Maine CDC last week detected the first case of congenital syphilis in the state in nearly 30 years.

The condition occurs when a pregnant person with syphilis passes the infection to a fetus during pregnancy. Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah says congenital syphilis can be serious but is easily treatable. The case in Maine is significant, he says, because it indicates a breakdown in the health care system because prenatal screening should have detected it.

"It's a concern because of what it tells us about the system rather than for what it tells us about the risk to the public," says Shah.

Cases of syphilis in Maine and the U.S. have been increasing over the past decade. Rates have increased by 400% in the state, nearly twice the national average. Last year, there were 112 cases reported in Maine. More than 20% were among women between the ages 15 and 44.