Health Department warns of rise in syphilis cases

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The sexually transmitted disease syphilis is on the rise in Vermont.

There were nine reported cases last year, up from three in 2006, and one in 2005.

Health Department officials say the main reason is a rise in the disease among men who have sex with men, reflecting a national trend.

Syphilis, which first shows up as a painless genital sore, can be spread to others during sex. But the sores may go unnoticed so the disease is often spread unknowingly.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics if detected early. But if the infection is untreated, it can cause more severe complications and can be life-threatening.

The Center for Disease Control says the number of cases nationally increased for the sixth consecutive year in 2006, from 2.9 cases per 100,000 people a year to 3.3 per 100,000, a nearly 14 percent increase.

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