By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
The city of Houston health Department is reporting a congenital syphilis surge. Preliminary data indicate that fetal deaths in Harris County (including Houston) increased from four in 2019 to 14 in 2020, a 250-percent increase.
“These deaths are completely preventable with simple testing and treatment,” said Beau Mitts, chief of the department’s bureau of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention. “Even more concerning, all fetal deaths in Harris County over the past two years were Black or Hispanic, highlighting stark disparities in testing and treatment.”
More babies are born with congenital syphilis in the Houston-area than any other part of the state.
The number of syphilis cases among pregnant mothers in Houston and Harris County also continues to increase. There was a 43-percent rise in cases from 2018 (104 cases) to 2019 (149 cases). Women ages 15-44 in Houston and Harris County accounted for 89-percent of all female syphilis cases in 2019.
Congenital syphilis is an infectious disease transmitted by an infected mother to her baby in the womb. Adults transmit syphilis through sexual contact but mothers can transmit the infection to their baby in the womb or through the birthing process. The disease can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, death shortly after birth, prematurity and birth defects. A woman can be treated and cured for syphilis during pregnancy, but it is important for women to be tested in time for treatment to be effective. Babies who test positive for syphilis at birth must be treated immediately to prevent serious health issues.
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