LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Healthcare advocates are urging the federal government to take action against what they describe as a “growing crisis” of congenital syphilis, which is transmitted from mother to child prior to or during birth.

A statement from the L.A.-based Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) cited a report from Oct. 2016 showing the number of cases of congenital syphilis hit 487 in 2015, the highest since 2001 when 506 cases were recorded.

“In response to data revealing a growing crisis of congenital syphilis across the U.S.,” the AHF urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to act far more aggressively on prevention, education and treatment on the potentially deadly

A New York Times report cited by the AHF claimed nearly five times as many babies are born with syphilis compared with HIV.

A shortage of Pfizer Bicillin L-A, the key syphilis drug used in the treatment of pregnant women, was cited by the group as a contributing to the crisis.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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