A northwestern Pennsylvania county is dealing with a “mini-outbreak” of syphilis, with six cases of the sexually transmitted disease diagnosed so far this month.
Erie County Health Department officials tell the Erie Times-News they typically have only a half dozen cases a year. The six cases diagnosed this month are the most for any single month in at least 13 years.
Officials say the disease is easily cured with antibiotics in its early stages, but say many people don't seek treatment because of privacy concerns or because the initial symptom -- a sore on one's genital area -- goes away by itself, even without treatment.
"But that doesn't mean they are cured," Charlotte Berringer, R.N., director of community health for Erie County Health Department, told the paper.
Left untreated, syphilis can result in paralysis, blindness, dementia or death.
Experts hope more people get tested for STDs to ensure they are free of syphilis.