Syphilis outbreak in East Texas

LONGVIEW (KYTX) - The sexually transmitted disease syphilis is on the rise in East Texas. CBS 19's ShaVonne Herndon reports on the social conditions contributing to the spread of syphilis. In 2009, East Texas reported more than 150 syphilis cases. That's double the syphilis cases the year before, and that has parents worried for their children. 

"You know they talk about junior high kids that are having sex, and I think she needs to know now what is expected of her."

Yolanda Robinett is leading up to educating her nine-year-old on the details of sex to hopefully keep diseases like syphilis away."

"When I do talk to her about that...my thoughts on that is God has a plan for you to wait until you are married for a reason and that protects you from those diseases."

Unprotected sex is how syphilis is spread from person to person, and the continuing prostitution and homeless problems are aiding in the spread the disease.

"It's often people are homeless who are jobless and it's also a matter of public education," said Dr. Philip Farmer.

If not treated, syphilis can damage internal organs including the brain, and even cause death.

"Protect yourself use condoms when you have sexual contact with people," said Dr. Farmer.

Syphilis is treated with antibiotics, which have been proven to stop a case of syphilis almost immediately.

"Because once you take the medication once you get treatment then the illness is stopped," said Dr. Farmer.

Parents worried about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases say the subject needs to be discussed with children early and often.

"I made a mistake when I was younger and I wanted her to be aware of the pitfalls out there for young ladies," said Townsend.

Farmer is working with a company that creates syphilis tests. He is waiting for FDA approval on the ten minute test.


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