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Congenital syphilis levels high in San Antonio

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Babies suffer from syphilis in San Antonio

While rates of syphilis have gone down across the country in recent years, the rates in San Antonio, Texas, have gone up. Health officials blame the lack of lab tests required for pregnant women to reveal whether they have the disease, thus passing it onto their children at birth.

High rates
A report that is expected to be released this week by Metro Health showed that there is progress in fighting congenital syphilis, but there may still be cause for alarm. By July in 2012, there were nine reported cases of congenital syphilis in the city, compared to seven this year.

In 2012, there were 924 documented cases of syphilis in the city, a 33 percent spike from the previous year. Information from Metro Health showed that the rates have gone down in 2013, but there is still work to be done.

"In most places in the United States, syphilis has been decreasing for years and has almost disappeared. It's going in the opposite direction in San Antonio and that's a serious problem," Thomas Schlenker, PhD, director of public health for the city, told local news source KENS 5.

Schlenker also commented that women should be tested three separate times for the disease while pregnant, though Texas law only mandates two tests. A test during the third trimester of pregnancy would reveal whether the unborn child has the disease, at which time a simple treatment, a shot of penicillin, can be administered. However, some of the children were left undiagnosed and untreated and five of the total 18 cases of congenital syphilis resulted in the death of the baby.

Congenital syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed from mother to child if contracted during prenatal development. While it can be treated with antibiotics, it can cause serious complications if ignored. Children born with the disease should be treated immediately, according to Boston Children's Hospital.

Anonymous STD testing can be done at a lab near your home if you wish to have one done discreetly. In addition to STD diagnosis tests, you can also be tested for cholesterol, blood disorders, auto-immune disorders and other conditions without having to visit your doctor.

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