A significant increase in syphilis cases in Colorado has health officials concerned.
Between January and July of last year, there were 164 early stage syphilis cases recorded in the state. During the same period of this year, there were 255 early syphilis cases. That’s a 56 percent increase.
Dr. Daniel Shodell, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says across the U.S. infection rates are going up including here in Colorado.
"The increase in syphilis is impacting nearly entirely men," Shodell says. "It’s about 96 percent men who are suffering from syphilis infection in Colorado in 2015. And, amongst those men are men who have sex with other men."
The disease can cause sores, skin rash and neurological symptoms.
There were nine cases of ocular syphilis reported in Colorado so far this year, according to the state. It’s caused two people to go blind.
"And, that's part of the reason we are so concerned about folks protecting themselves, getting tested, and getting treated," he says.
Shodell says the disease is curable.
The Western Colorado Aids Project in Grand Junction, which serves 22 counties, provides free rapid HIV and Heptatis C testing. WESTCAP also offers referrals for free testing for other STDs.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported there were 164 cases of syphilis recorded in the state in 2014 and 255 syphilis during the first seven months of 2015. That's incorrect. There were 164 early syphilis cases between January and July of 2014 and 255 early stage cases during the first seven months of 2015.