Puerto Rico Attends Flu Epidemic 3:54

(CNN Español) -- The Puerto Rico Department of Health reported Wednesday an outbreak of syphilis in the municipality of Vieques, an island located in the east of the territory.

Melissa Marzán Rodríguez, the Health Department's top epidemiology official, told CNN that in the latest published sexually transmitted disease surveillance report, an outbreak with at least 39 active cases has been identified for the Fajardo region, which includes the municipality of Vieques, where the number of registered cases is 13. Those affected are between 17 and 46 years old, but, according to the official, the largest number are between 20 and 29 years old.

  • Puerto Rico declared an influenza epidemic on the island

As of October, the surveillance system had registered 1,179 positive cases this year, said Marzán Rodríguez. At the same time, he explained that the number of cases has been increasing in recent years. He added that "just before the pandemic we could see 850 to 1,000 cases per year, but last year we saw about 1,400."

Marzán Rodríguez reported that the Department of Health has begun to establish direct links with clinics in the municipality of Fajardo to attend to the affected people.

Vieques is an island located east of Puerto Rico, off the coast of Humacao. According to the government's municipality portal, it has a population of 9,351 people and an area of 134.4 square kilometers.

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What is syphilis?

The Puerto Rico Department of Health, in its surveillance report, describes syphilis as "a disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum."

"It's usually spread from person to person through sexual contact. It can be through semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, and from pregnant person to child during pregnancy (congenital syphilis).

"In rare scenarios, the bacterium can invade other anatomical regions of the individual such as the central nervous system, eye or ear and cause neurosyphilis, ocular syphilis or otosyphilis, respectively.

"The incubation period on average is 3 to 4 weeks, but it can range from 9 to 90 days. Syphilis is currently classified into four clinical stages, which occur sequentially."

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