Warnings sounded after ‘significant’ rise in syphilis cases across Teesside
Health chiefs have issued a warning after a ‘significant’ rise in the number of syphilis cases across Teesside.
Rates of sexually transmitted infections are on the rise across the region and pregnant women, in particular, are urged to take extra precautions.
The disease is transmitted by having sex with someone who is already infected, if left untreated it can cause serious health problems. The risks for expectant mothers and their unborn babies are highlighted, any expectant mother who thinks she has caught the infection is urged to see her midwife.
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“There has been a significant increase in cases of syphilis across Teesside. Syphilis during pregnancy can cause serious problems for both mother and baby if left untreated. Please speak to your midwife if you have any concerns,” said a Tweet posted by Central Middlesbrough PCN on Tuesday, May 17. The organization is a collaboration of seven GP practices, covering 49,723 patients in Middlesbrough.
The bacterial STD is usually caught by having sex with an infected person. NHS advice says it’s important to get tested and seek treatment as soon as possible if you think you have it, as it can cause serious problems – it can usually be cured with a short course of antibiotics.
Symptoms are not always obvious and may disappear, but those affected will usually remain infected unless treated – some people have no symptoms. They can include small, painless sores or ulcers on the penis, vagina, or around the anus, but can occur in other places like the mouth; a red blotchy rash that often affects the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet; small skin growths on the vulva in women or around the anus in both men and women; white patches in the mouth as well as fatigue, headache, joint pain and high temperature and swollen glands in the neck, groin or armpits.
If left untreated for years, syphilis can spread to the brain or other parts of the body and cause serious long-term problems. The advice is to get tested as soon as possible if you think you have it – usually via a blood test and taking a sample of fluid from any wound using a swab.
Syphilis cannot be spread by using the same toilet, clothes, cutlery, or bathroom as an infected person, but pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the infection to their unborn baby, which can be dangerous. Infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious infection in the baby, according to the NHS.