The number of people in the US who were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the last year rose to its highest ever level.
Around 2.5m cases of STDs were recorded in 2018, including nearly 1,300 cases of congenital syphilis in newborn children, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Congenital syphilis occurs when a mother passes on the infection to their unborn child in the womb.
STD rates climbed year-on-year between 2014 and 2018, with the number of syphilis cases rising by 71% and gonorrhoea cases jumping by 63%.
The number of those diagnosed with chlamydia rose by 19% in the same period.
Health officials in the US blame a drop in funding at state and local level for the record rates.
The CDC’s annual prevention budget fell by 40% between 2003 and 2018.
Lower funding levels have resulted in staff redundancies, the closure of clinics and less screening, which has meant it is more difficult to prevent the spread of STDs.
Gail Bolan, CDC’s director of STD prevention, said: “The resurgence of syphilis, and particularly congenital syphilis, is not an arbitrary event, but rather a symptom of a deteriorating public health infrastructure and lack of access to health care.”
In 2018, the CDC recorded almost 1.8m cases of chlamydia, 580,000 cases of gonorrhoea and around 115,000 cases of syphilis.
There were 78 still births, as well as 16 infant deaths, due to congenital syphilis.
Half of STD cases happen in people aged between 15 and 24 years old, and can lead to health complications.
Source: SKY NEWS