There is an STD Epidemic in Texas Causing Fatalities in Newborns
Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, has been rising at an alarming rate in Texas, especially among pregnant individuals and their newborns.
According to the Texas Tribune, the problem has reached the point where Texas leads the nation in the number of newborns affected by the disease. Dr. Irene Stafford, a specialist in Houston, notes that many people falsely believe syphilis is no longer a threat, but its resurgence qualifies it as an epidemic.
The data from 2022 showed a 22% rise in syphilis cases in Texas from the previous year, and these numbers were more than double from five years prior.
When a pregnant person is left untreated for syphilis, their newborn can also contract the disease, which can sometimes result in the child's death. Harris County reported an increase in syphilis-related deaths in babies from 2019 to 2020. Moreover, in 2022, 950 newborn cases were reported in Texas, a significant jump from the 685 cases in 2021.
A significant contributor to the rising numbers is the national shortage of Bicillin, a version of penicillin effective for treating pregnant patients with syphilis. Pfizer, the drug's sole manufacturer in the U.S., announced they didn't anticipate the demand and that supplies would be limited until the following year.
Another factor has been the COVID-19 pandemic.
With limited access to regular medical check-ups and screenings due to lockdowns, the rate of syphilis infections surged. Now, with the world slowly returning to normal, syphilis cases are still rising, particularly among young adults.
Healthcare workers are most concerned about congenital syphilis, where babies inherit the disease from their parents.
Without timely treatment, the fatality rate for babies is high.
Given the circumstances, health officials are doubling their efforts to control this epidemic through education, training, and public health initiatives.
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