Two Syphilis Alerts have been issued in as many days in Texas.
On Wednesday, April 27, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) issued a Syphilis Alert in Lubbock County. The alert came after reported increases in primary, secondary, and early latent syphilis cases.
According to City of Lubbock officials, twenty-four cases have been reported since January. That is compared to 8 cases reported during the same time period in 2015.
On Thursday, April 28, the Amarillo Public Health Department issued its own public health advisory for Syphilis. Amarillo’s Department of Public Heath has received reports of thirty-one cases of Syphilis since the beginning of 2016.
Both alerts ask physicians and other health care providers in the communities to screen patients at risk to prevent the further spread of the disease.
If left untreated, Syphilis can lead to damage throughout the body including neurological and cardiovascular complications. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection. For women, it can cause problems during pregnancy and for the newborn.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1128 requiring every pregnant woman to be tested for Syphilis at her first prenatal visit and at the third trimester. A full article about that requirement is found here.
Per Texas law, health care providers are required to report the following sexually transmitted diseases to their local/regional health department: HIV and AIDS, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Chancroid, and Syphilis. If you suspect your patient has signs or symptoms of primary or secondary Syphilis, you must report it within 24 hours for public health follow-up.
For questions about disease reporting, see DSHS reporting information online, or consult your local or regional health department.
Additional information about syphilis may be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.