In the Houston syphilis outbreak, Various factors, such as the emergence of new diseases, environmental changes, or shifts in human behavior contributed to this health crisis.
Syphilis is an STI caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It can spread when having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone infected with these bacteria or encountering one of that person’s sores.
Know the Warning Signs of Syphilis
The infection progresses through four stages. In the primary stage, a painless sore called chancre appears at the site of infection. Secondary syphilis occurs with symptoms like rash, fever, and fatigue. In the case of Latent syphilis, you may remain without symptoms for years.
Tertiary syphilis occurring years later can lead to severe complications such as heart disease and brain damage. Therefore, Timely treatment is important to prevent progression and potential long-term effects.
Though the most common way of contracting syphilis is through sexual intercourse, the bacteria can also spread through contact with infected blood. This happens when sharing needles or through blood transfusions (2✔ ✔Trusted Source
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Syphilis can even spread during pregnancy or childbirth. A mother with syphilis can pass the infection to her baby. This can lead to severe health issues for the newborn, including stillbirth and death.
Even if the baby survives birth, the baby may have deformed bones, severe anemia, an enlarged liver and spleen, jaundice, brain and nerve problems, skin rashes, or other problems. The number of reported congenital syphilis cases in Houston has mushroomed by 844% from 16 to 151 from 2016 to 2021.
How is the Health Department handling the Syphilis Outbreak?
The most effective treatment for early stages of syphilis, such as primary, secondary, or early latent syphilis, is antibiotics. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a three-dose regimen of long-acting Benzathine penicillin G for late latent syphilis or syphilis of unknown duration.
Treatment with penicillin will cure the infection and prevent further harm, but it cannot reverse the existing damage. It is important to choose the appropriate antibiotic, depending on the individual’s need (3✔ ✔Trusted Source
The Modern Epidemic of Syphilis
Go to source).
To tackle the outbreak, the Health Department is implementing a rapid outreach response, including expanding screening options, focusing on areas with high infection rates, and collaborating with community partners to prevent new infections.
To support this effort, the HIV/STD mobile clinic will be utilized for increased screening and promoting awareness of the outbreak to encourage more testing and treatment. The Health Department is additionally waiving clinical fees for STIs at its health centers, for increased accessibility to care.
- Houston Health Department reports syphilis outbreak, begins rapid community outreach response – (https://www.houstonhealth.org/news/news-releases/houston-health-department-reports-syphilis-outbreak-begins-rapid-community-outreach-response)
- Sfilis Syphilis – (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0213005X19300072?via%3Dihub)
- The Modern Epidemic of Syphilis – (https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMra1901593)