Lab tests have confirmed that syphilis is increasing in Butte County.
In the first six months of the year, 12 confirmed cases have been reported, according to the Butte County Public Health Department. During the same period in 2014, there were two cases.
Two-thirds of the cases involve men. The men and women who contracted the sexually transmitted disease are in their 20s or between 40 and 54 years old.
Syphilis, a bacterial infection, is spread through sexual contact and is called “The Great Imitator” because it can resemble other diseases. The most common symptoms are small ulcers on the genitals, rectum or in the mouth; or a non-itchy body rash on the palms or soles of the feet.
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“Testing and treatment for syphilis is quick and simple. We urge people at risk to get tested often, as symptoms may be hard to recognize,” said County Health Officer Dr. Mark Lundberg in a press release.
Left untreated, blindness or damage to the heart, brain and spinal cord could occur. Pregnant women can pass the disease on to their infants during childbirth.
Free condoms and free or low-cost testing are available at county health clinics in Chico and Oroville.