The Metro Health Department reported today that syphilis is on the increase, and refers to the venereal disease as an 'epidemic gripping San Antonio,' 1200 WOAI news reports.

The rate of congenital syphilis in Bexar County is 8 times higher than the 2012 national average and is the highest rate among the large urban counties in Texas.

Congenital syphilis passes from a mother to baby, and causes life long incurable disabilities, such as blindness, seizures, and severe learning disabilities and is frequently fatal.

The total number of syphilis cases n Bexar County in 2-12 jumped 15.2%, to 1,070. 

The rate of primary and secondary syphilis infections in men is six times that of women.

"San Antonio's syphilis epidemic is now in its ninth year of continuous growth," Metro Health Director Dr. Thomas Schlenker said. "The 17 babies born with congenital syphilis in 2013 are exceeded only by the 18 babies born in 2012.  Only a deeply committed collaboration between Metro Health and local health care practitioners can halt this terrible plague."