San Antonio’s average of 10 congenital syphilis per year can be prevented with a simple penicillin shot during pregnancy. What’s more, 670 new adult cases of the disease, which is treatable, were reported in 2010 – three times the number of cases in 2003.
Several radio stations in town will air messages from the Texas Department of State Health Services to educate listeners about the symptoms associated with syphilis in hopes of preventing additional cases through education and outreach. The radio spots will run through Oct. 2.
Untreated syphilis can lead to blindness, heart failure and other problems in adults, and developmental problems and death in newborns. It's also a frequent co-infection with HIV, with similar risk factors and risk groups. Symptoms of syphilis can increase the risk of HIV co-infection. Some community HIV prevention programs are now testing for both.
Bexar County's rate was the highest among major Texas city. Texas also has one of the highest rates in the nation.