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Central New York sees rise in syphilis rates

Indu Gupta, MD, MPHPregnant women, sex workers and men having sex with men are recommended to be tested for exposure to syphilis since health officials have noticed an increase in cases of the sexually-transmitted disease. “We started to see these rates spike the last couple of years, quite significantly,” said Indu Gupta, MD, health commissioner for Onondaga County.

Penicillin is credited with virtually eliminating syphilis. The recent rise may be tied to mobile phone applications that help strangers connect for anonymous sex. In 2008, three cases of syphilis were reported in Onondaga County, compared with 56 reporded in all of 2014.

Gupta says primary syphilis infections usually include ulcers, which will heal on their own. If the disease is not treated, however, infected people continue to carry and transmit syphilis.