Japan health officials saw the number of syphilis cases double from 2015 to 2016, with some 4500 cases reported. Now, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases recently reported that in 2017, the number of cases of the sexually transmitted infection has easily topped 5000 with 5534 cases through Dec. 17 (Excel).


Tokyo has seen the most cases with 1705, followed by Osaka (788), Aichi (325) and Kanagawa (312).

According to a Japan Times article, this is the first time  since comparable data became available in 1999, there were over 5,000 syphilis patients domestically, with the number rising particularly among women in their 20s.

LISTEN: A syphilis primer

In addition, the metropolitan government has earmarked funds in its fiscal 2018 budget to conduct more free anonymous tests and train doctors who have limited experience in treating syphilis.

Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. Symptoms of syphilis in adults include a painless sore that will go away without treatment followed by a non-itchy body rash. If left untreated syphilis can lead to damage through the body including neurological and cardiovascular complications. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection and, for women, can cause problems during pregnancy and for the newborn.

LISTEN: Totally preventable: Congenital syphilis on the rise in the US

In most cases, syphilis is easily treated with a single injection of penicillin. Penicillin will also prevent syphilis infection in contacts that may not yet show symptoms.

Related: CDC: ‘STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond’

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