Minister of Health Confronts syphilis as epidemic
From 2014 to 2015, the disease had a growth of 20.9% in pregnant women, according to official data
A disease that can go unnoticed for many years in adults is capable of causing serious problems to the baby in formation inside the uterus. Syphilis is silent, but it deserves a lot of attention – especially as the number of people infected is growing. From 2014 to 2015, the disease had a 20.9% increase in pregnant women and a 19% increase in congenital cases (babies who are already born infected).
“The cases have risen significantly. We are treating the problem as an epidemic so that reduction results are more expressive, “said Health Minister Ricardo Barros.”Features are available. People need to undergo tests and treatments, “he said.
People should be alert to syphilis symptoms for medical help. If untreated during pregnancy, the infection can cause miscarriage, blindness, deafness, mental deficiency and other fetal malformations.
What is syphilis?
It is an infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The main form of transmission is sexual intercourse (intercourse without a condom), but it also happens through blood transfusion and during pregnancy (from mother to baby).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms begin on average 3 to 4 weeks after a person is infected with the bacteria. If left untreated, the disease progresses through its various phases and can lead to heart, brain, and even death.
In the primary stage, open sores appear at the site of infection (usually the mouth, vagina, penis, anus. Rarely, it may also appear on other parts of the body, such as the fingers). These lesions do not bleed and do not hurt. That is why many patients do not realize the seriousness of the problem and do not suspect that they are infected. The wounds come in up to 12 weeks, which helps the person to think he is well.
In the secondary stage, rashes appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. They last a few weeks. During this period, fever, loss of appetite, thrush and tiredness are common. Next comes the latent phase, with no symptoms – which can last from a few weeks to many years. After her, the tertiary stage of the disease arrives, at which time the biggest problems can appear which affect the brain and the heart and are capable of leading to death.
Babies who are infected during pregnancy may die before birth or may have different fetal malformations – including microcephaly.
How to detect?
The diagnosis of syphilis can be made through rapid tests, available in the Unified Health System (SUS). Anyone who is planning pregnancy should take the exam first, to make sure they do not have the disease. In the case of unexpected pregnant women, it is necessary to perform the test at the first prenatal visit (in the first trimester) to treat as soon as possible and minimize the risks to the baby.
How to treat?
The most common treatment is penicillin, an injectable antibiotic. The prescription can be one to three doses, depending on the stage in which the disease is, as explained by gynecologist and obstetrician Ricardo Luba (SP).
How to prevent it?
It is very important to have sex with a condom. Women who are planning a pregnancy should take the test to see if they are carrying the bacteria before they become pregnant. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the Ministry of Health recommends that the mother and father take the test. Some doctors, to be even more certain, repeat the test in the three trimesters of gestation.
“It also reveals that sexual behavior has changed: with the sexual release of the new generation, many people are losing control and have not used condoms the information is everywhere, but lack of awareness. Syphilis was practically eradicated, and now it has returned, “Luba says.