Parents of students at Crane High School received a letter from officials at the Crane Independent School District informing them that the school has a confirmed number of 20 chlamydia infection cases. The school is said to have around 300 enrolled students.

The disease outbreak at the Texas high school is just part of the total recorded cases in the state. According to the records of the Health and Human Services in Dallas County, there was a notable 31 percent increase in the number of primary and secondary diagnoses of syphilis made in Dallas County in 2013 compared with the recorded number in 2012.

Currently, Texas ranks third among the states with the highest rates of HIV. In 2011, there were 5,044 new infections that were reported in the state or more than 10 percent of the total new cases reported in the nation. The record was based on the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation which bears the title "The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States."

The latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 54.1 percent of high school students nationwide were found to be sexually active in 2013. In Texas, 45.9 percent of high school students had been engaged in sexual intercourse while 47.1 percent admitted on not using a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

In El Paso, the Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed in a report that 600 new chlamydia cases had been recorded for every 100,000 people in 2013. In the meantime, the CDC revealed that early this year, eight of the total 11 states with the highest cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea were found to be in the South.

Chlamydia is otherwise known as the "Silent Epidemic." Some 70 percent to 80 percent of cases of chlamydia among women do not show any symptoms and may take months or years later to be discovered. Some of the signs and symptoms of having chlamydia may include painful urination, abnormal frequency in the urge to urinate, fever, painful sexual intercourse, abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. If it is left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and sterility in women and infections in men.

CDC estimates that out of an approximate 2.8 million new cases of chlamydia in the U.S. each year, there are around 2 percent of young people who are affected.

Chlamydia infection is curable and can be treated by taking antibiotics. If it remains untreated, it can lead to permanent damage to a woman's reproductive system. Doctors urge people with more than one sex partner to be tested for the disease as it can occur without symptoms. Those infected should notify all sex partners and abstain from sex until they finish treatment. Proper use of a condom reduces the risk of infection.

Photo: Daniel Nugent I Flickr

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