On 24 April 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its epidemiological reports for 2018 for syphilis and congenital syphilis.
In 2018, 33,927 confirmed syphilis cases were reported in 29 EU/EEA member states, with a crude notification rate of 7.0 cases per 100,000 of the population. Reported syphilis rates were nine times higher in men than in women and showed a peak for men aged 25-34 years (29 cases per 100,000 of the population). More than two-thirds (69%) of syphilis cases with information on transmission category were reported in men who have sex with men (MSM).
The trend in syphilis rates has been on the rise since 2011 and up to 2017, particularly among men and mainly due to an increase in the number of cases among MSM. In 2018, the increase seems to have halted. Compared with 2017, the number of MSM cases with HIV-negative status increased by 7% in 2018.
In 2018, 60 confirmed congenital syphilis cases were reported in 23 EU/EEA member states, a crude rate of 1.6 cases per 100,000 live births. For the first time since 2013, the number of notified cases of congenital syphilis increased in 2018. This report may include some underreporting, as seven countries did not contribute to the reporting of congenital syphilis, while a further 12 countries reported no cases.
The low rates of congenital syphilis and of reported syphilis among women suggest that most member states have effective programmes for elimination of congenital syphilis. The recent 50% increase over the previous year, however, deserves careful scrutiny. Better indicator data are needed to assess the effectiveness of antenatal screening programmes in all EU/EEA countries.
Source: ECDC, 24 April 2020