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Health officials warn of 'sharp increase' in statewide syphilis cases

Samples of blood and other bodily fluids at the coroner's office in Marion County, Ind., are tested for controlled substances.
Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media
Samples of blood and other bodily fluids at the coroner's office in Marion County, Ind., are tested for controlled substances.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health are warning of a sharp increase in syphilis infections across the state.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can easily be treated with antibiotics. However, symptoms can often be mistaken for common skin irritations.

Symptoms usually appear as a painless lesion, a sore that can be misidentified as a pimple, or an ingrown hair or skin irritation that could be mistaken for a rash or dry skin.

While the sore will eventually heal and go away, the infection will remain and can still be passed on without proper treatment.

Left untreated, syphilis in adults can cause blindness, severe neurological damage, bone damage and even death.

Health officials encourage all sexually active individuals to get tested.

Testing for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections can be done free and confidentially at any county health department.

More information can be found at oklahoma.gov/health/syphilis.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.