SAN ANTONIO – The latest data on sexually transmitted diseases in the San Antonio community was presented Wednesday to city officials.
Metro Health officials reported that the number of syphilis cases in San Antonio continues on a downward trend, but the number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases have increased.
According to a Metro Health news release, congenital syphilis cases decreased 44 percent, from 18 cases in 2012 to 10 cases in 2015.
Of those 10 cases, eight had no or limited prenatal care. The Texas Legislature passed a law last September mandating syphilis testing of pregnant women in the third trimester.
"If a mother appears at the last minute at the hospital having a baby and is congenital, there's nothing the hospital could do, nor public health," said Dr. Anil Mangla, Metro Health assistant director of communicable diseases. "So what we're trying to do is intervene much earlier in their pregnancy."
When a newborn is born with congenital syphilis, Mangla said the child is born into a world of debilitating and possibly life threatening health issues.
"They're going to have mental disabilities, physical disabilities," Mangla said. "It could cause blindness and deafness."
Mangla said Metro Health has increased testing and treatment, as well as increased its staff with more intervention specialists.
The department also unveiled its new mobile clinic just last month, which offers full service STD screening and treatment.
Cases of primary and secondary syphilis also decreased 27 percent from 2012 to 2015.
Additional data from Metro Health showed that nearly 82 percent of syphilis cases were reported in males.
While the percentage of syphilis cases is highest among Hispanics, the rate per 100,000 residents is higher among African-Americans at 17.1, followed by Hispanics at 14.4 and whites at 6.7.
Most cases were reported among people that were 20 to 29 years of age.
Metro Health has made a strong push in recent years to combat syphilis cases in San Antonio.
A few years ago, the San Antonio area had some of the highest rates and cases of syphilis in the country.
In regards to chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, Metro Health data showed chlamydia cases increased 19.6 percent from 2012 to 2015.
Gonorrhea increased 17 percent during the same time period.
Metro Health will continue to look closely at the increase as the department uses multiple methods to ensure that people in the San Antonio community are tested and treated for STDs.
"We are going to dig deeper to see if it is age related, because when we stratify by age, we really clearly saw that this is a college population," Mangla said.
Metro Health’s mobile clinic is scheduled through the end of June at different locations throughout the community. (See Below)