Syphilis, virtually eradicated in China under Mao Zedong, has become a viciously-growing epidemic here, AFP reported, citing a paper written by Chinese epidemiologists from China's National Centre for STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) Control due to appear in Saturday's issue of the British health journal The Lancet. The rise is attributed to prostitution, internal migration and poor health controls. In 1993, the reported rate of syphilis in China was a mere 0.2 cases per 100,000 people but this had surged to 5.7 cases per 100,000 and that figure may well be a serious under-estimate the paper said. In addition, the number of babies born with syphilis has shot up. Congenital syphilis occurred among just 0.01 per 100,000 live births in 1991; in 2005 it was 19.68 – an annual rise of nearly 72%. "The spread of syphilis in China has been insidious and has only recently attracted the attention it deserves," the research said.