Texas Department of Health officials say there is no cause for alarm after reports of an STD outbreak in southeast Texas.
During a press conference in Hardin County, lead investigator Dr. Leonard McCoy described the events leading up to the health scare, the outcome, and why a national prophylactic manufacturer is eyeing the area for a future advertising campaign.
According to McCoy several calls were received late last Saturday evening to the STD hotline. Callers described a sudden burning sensation on various parts of the body, including mouths, genitals, and buttocks area. As the calls continued to pour in, the call center manager noticed the outbreak was centered within a one-mile radius in a small city just northeast of Beaumont. Immediately, an emergency response team was assembled.
“Our initial encounter was with a young couple,” McCoy stated, “both of whom were experiencing burning sensations, redness, and slight swelling in the affected areas. This was immediately recognized as a precursor to a level 4 transmission.” McCoy then went on to explain that several other subjects were readily identified and a containment area was set up along with a perimeter to try and cordon off the area to stop the spread of the outbreak.
“Once several subjects in such close proximity were identified, we knew that there was a potential outbreak. Our fear was we were looking at another incident like the Boykin outbreak of ’98.” This brought a stunned gasp from the audience. The Boykin outbreak of ’98 referred to an occurrence in the same town almost twenty-years earlier. That outbreak alone caused a penicillin shortage in the country for several months.
However, after samples were analyzed from the affected patients, the medical team’s fear turned to a sense of relief. McCoy referred to his colleague Dr. Doug Ross, an expert in STD transmission. “After careful analysis of blood, urine, stool, and skin samples we have concluded that this was not an outbreak of any known form of STD.” Ross continued. “The burning sensations experienced by the affected parties was not due to physical contact with other humans, but rather a more common occurrence in the region due to lack of proper hygiene before using the restroom.”
Dr. Ross then explained the team discovered that all involved in the outbreak were gathered earlier that day at a central location. Their purpose was to consume copious amounts of alcohol and boiled decapod crustaceans which were seasoned to a high heat level using various spices obtained from dubious characters known to inhabit the bayous of Louisiana and southeast Texas.
“This seasoning,” Ross explained, “coated any skin surface it came into contact with. Unfortunately for many of the participants, they did not properly clean their hands before utilizing the restroom facility. This was the cause of the burning, and in several cases swelling – which I’m being told was actually a welcome side-effect for some of the men.”
The room was silent for a moment as those gathered digested the information. Then one reporter questioned about several of the cases in which those in attendance did not consume the shellfish, yet exhibited signs of an infection.
“We have closely examined those cases. At this time we have no explanation as to how the seasoning could have spread to the patients and are still monitoring the situation. We have ruled out air-borne transmission and are concentrating on a skin to skin contact scenario since the affected areas seem to be concentrated on the lips and tongues of the affected women.”
Sterling Archer, one local resident that was affected by the outbreak agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. “Burning? Hell yes, it was burning! Good Lord man, it was worse than that time I woke up in a massage parlor after seven Mai-Tai’s. I’ll never forget those girls names even if I can’t pronounce them.
“I tried everything to stop the pain. Finally, I found salvation in the frozen aisle at Market Basket. Let me tell you, that Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla pint was like a chilled pillow on a warm night, I just wanted to rest my head in it and close my eyes. Listeria be damned, that was come cool soft comfort. At least until the police arrived. I still don’t understand why they arrested me, I had every intention of paying.”
Now that the crisis has been abated, the neighborhood has returned to the happy place it was before all of the attention, with a few exceptions. Some residents have started a therapy group in order to deal with the trauma they experienced. While others have agreed to sponsorships from manufacturers ranging from Johnson & Johnson to Cajun Fiya seasoning. No matter the outcome, each will tell you that they have learned an invaluable lesson: Wash before handling.