Syphilis has long been called the gift that keep on giving. But residents in Southwest Oklahoma want to be taken off the gift list.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Comanche County in Oklahoma has had a syphilis outbreak. Since July 28 nine people have tested positive for the disease. According to KOCO, that's a 300 percent increase from last year.
Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, is a curable bacterial infection. Officials did express concern, however, that the disease could spread to counties beyond the initial area.
“The good news is syphilis can be identified by examination and testing, cured with antibiotics, and through disease investigation, the spread of syphilis can be stopped,” Comanche County Health Department regional director Brandie O’Connor said in a statement. “We want to encourage people to seek testing and treatment if they have been having unprotected sex.”
Public health workers went to Comanche County to interview people who have tested positive for syphilis. According to media reports, they reported using Grindr, a location-based social networking smartphone app that describes itself as "The world’s biggest mobile network of guys.”
“The people at high risk for syphilis due to this specific outbreak include men who have sex with men, people who have multiple sex partners, IV drug users and people who have sex with anonymous partners, including those met online," O'Connor said.
Untreated syphilis can cause damage to major organs and cause birth defects or infant death. Symptoms include a painless lesion on sexual organs, red or brown rashes on the hands and feet, swollen lymph glands, sore throat and fatigue.