There has been a ‘significant increase’ in the numbers of syphilis reports in Cork, according to a statement released by the HSE.
There has been 21 reported cases in Cork and Kerry from January to June this year. This is three times more than the same period from 2015.
Gay men are the highest risk group, with eight out of every 10 cases reported being from men who have sex with men.
The HSE Department of Public Health in Cork has released a statement expressing concerns and is encouraging anyone who is sexually active to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The Department of Public Health said. “Safer sex practices and regular testing and treatment of infectious syphilis are the key to prevention.
“Syphilis has been called the ‘Great Pretender’ as its symptoms can look like many other diseases. Up to half of people with syphilis may not notice any symptoms; therefore it is vital to get tested."
Professor Mary Horgan, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at CUH and clinical lead for STI services in Cork and Kerry, confirmed that cases are increasing in the area.
She said: “I have seen a significant increase in syphilis among men who have sex with men. I would encourage (gay men) who have had unprotected sex, including unprotected oral sex, to book an STI test as soon as possible.
“While 90% of the cases we are seeing are primary syphilis, up to half of people with syphilis may not have any symptoms, and therefore could pass it on unintentionally. Syphilis is curable with treatment. Unrecognised, untreated syphilis can lead to serious long-term complications.”