The Source: Syphilis Spike Has Public Health Officials Worried

Apr 8, 2014

Syphilis rates in Bexar County jumped 15 percent, crossing the thousand person mark in 2013, according to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. District officials are calling it an "epidemic" and have been edging up continuously for nine years. San Antonio has the highest rate in Texas and exceeds the national average.

While the disease is curable, symptoms aren't always present and if left untreated the disease ravages the mind. Woman who are infected pass it along to their babies, who oftentimes don't survive, but have lasting health impacts and disabilities when they do.

The disease still affects the children of women who were infected but get treated, if they become pregnant within four years of having the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in this scenario pass along the disease 80 percent of the time.

What is driving these numbers and what can the city do to combat this issue?


  • Dr. Thomas Schlenker, director of San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District

*This is the first segment in the April 8 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM -- audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.