July 21, 2023

Texas City Report Syphilis Outbreak, Penicillin Supply Running Low

One Texas city is experiencing a surge in syphilis cases that is being complicated by the area's low levels of penicillin.

Houston noted the outbreak on July 13, including a growing number of cases in surrounding counties.

"Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it expects a 'limited supply and impending stock out situation' for select Bicillin medications," Fox News reported.

"Cases of syphilis, a bacterial infection that is spread through sexual contact or from a mother to an unborn child, have been on the rise in the U.S. for the past several years," it added.

"As a large urban jurisdiction, we've got to be really aggressive in our response when we see these kinds of cases because we have millions of people who may be at risk," the Houston Health Department's Deputy Assistant Director for the Bureau of HIV/STI and Viral Hepatitis Prevention Marlene McNeese told KRPC.

"To see the numbers rise at this alarming rate really sounded the alarm for us," she added.

These concerns are leading to calls for more testing for pregnant mothers regarding their physical condition.

Despite the growing numbers, the total number of cases is still relatively small. Though "millions" may be considered "at risk," the overall numbers for 2022 were 2,905 in Houston.

The concerns mirror similar increases in other major U.S. cities that are alarming medical providers and increasing calls for STD testing.

The Houston area's response will be key to catching and treating the issue in an effort to help those impacted and create awareness for pregnant women.

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