Asian Pregnant Woman Standing Holding a Glass of Milk

Small numbers aren’t as significant. They understandably don’t get as much attention. But Oregon has had a worrying increase in congenital syphilis.

Congenital syphilis is when a pregnant person with syphilis passes it on to the baby. Oregon had zero cases in 2013. In 2019 and in 2020, it had 19. There have been 17 cases already this year.

That is just not that many cases. But, for instance, it did put Oregon near the top in the nation in 2019. It is deadly in about 10% of the cases. It can lead to many other medical problems.

Minorities are overrepresented in the numbers of people likely to deliver an infant with congenital syphilis. Nearly half who delivered an infant with congenital syphilis had no home or no stable housing.

The thing is: With adequate medical care, it never has to happen. Every one of these incidents means the mother is not receiving sufficient medical care. In fact, in 40% of the cases, the mother received none.

It’s a state medical failure.

Think about this in the context of the discussion about the homeless in Bend. New facilities for the homeless — managed camps, navigation centers, hotels — can be the way that people can connect with services to help get them on a better path. That includes health care.

The numbers are small for congenital syphilis. They should be zero.

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