Healthcare professionals report a sharp increase in metro syphilis cases

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The infectious disease department says cases of other sexually transmitted diseases are fluctuating, but syphilis cases are going up, including those that are resistant to antibiotics. As you spend time with your loved one this Valentine's Day, the University of Kansas Hospital is testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Some call it a mood killer to discuss STDs on Valentine's Day, but health officials say it's the perfect time.

"It's more of a mood killer when you have to go in because you're having symptoms of illness," Dr. Dana Hawkinson said.

Area health officials are seeing a rise in syphilis cases in just about every age group.

"We know that there has been elevated rates that can be found in nursing homes as well," Dr. Hawkinson said.

Jeff Hershberger with the Kansas City Health Department echoed Dr. Hawkinson's observations.

"With this we're seeing it as young as teenagers and on up through senior citizens," Hershberger said.

We spoke with the health department about the recent number of cases for all STDs. The numbers are significantly higher for the other STDs, however, syphilis has seen the highest jump with over a 100 percent increase.

The University of Kansas Hospital isn't sure of a reason for the increase, but Hershberger thinks it's because syphilis symptoms can go away, and then return, leaving an infected person with a false sense of well-being.

"With syphilis they may get a sore early that goes away and think everything is fine, and then it shows us as a rash," he said.

Even though there is treatment, the University of Kansas Hospital is starting to see more strains that are resistant to antibiotics. You're urged to know your status, practice safe sex and be honest with your partner if you’re sick. A quick side note: Penicillin, the most common treatment for syphilis, was discovered on Valentine’s Day in 1928.

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