Syphilis cases detected in Cork treble over first half of 2015

HSE says almost eight in 10 reported cases involve men who have sex with men

Almost eight in 10 reported cases of syphilis involve men who have sex with men and the HSE has encouraged all sexually active men who have or who have had sex with men, and women whose partners have sex with men, to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. File photograph: Getty Images

Almost eight in 10 reported cases of syphilis involve men who have sex with men and the HSE has encouraged all sexually active men who have or who have had sex with men, and women whose partners have sex with men, to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. File photograph: Getty Images

 

A rise in the number of cases of syphilis among men who have sex with men has been detected in the Cork area, according to the Health Service Executive.

The HSE said the number of cases reported in Cork and Kerry from January to June 2016 has trebled compared with the same period last year, going from seven to 21, while 23 cases had been detected in the second half of 2015.

Almost eight in 10 reported cases involve men who have sex with men and the HSE has encouraged all sexually active men who have or who have had sex with men, and women whose partners have sex with men, to get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a specific type of bacteria which if not treated promptly and with the correct antibiotics can cause serious long-term problems.

Unprotected sex

It is passed from person to person during unprotected anal, oral or vaginal sex, or by sharing sex toys with someone who’s infected.

The first symptom (primary syphilis) is usually the appearance of a painless sore at the location where the bacteria entered the body, but syphilis has been called the “Great Pretender” as its symptoms can look like many other diseases.

Up to half of people who have contracted syphilis may not notice any symptoms.

Prof Mary Horgan, consultant in infectious diseases at Cork University Hospital and clinical lead for STI services in Cork and Kerry, said: “I have seen a significant increase in syphilis among men who have sex with men (MSM).

“I would encourage MSM who have had unprotected sex, including unprotected oral sex, to book an STI test as soon as possible.”