NewsDesk @bactiman63

After reporting a record year in syphilis cases in 2021, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo is reporting cases up 1.6 times compared to the same period in 2021.

Through April 13, officials have reported 2,592 syphilis cases. This includes 781 cases in Tokyo, accounting for 30 percent of all cases in the country.

Japan reported more than 5,000 syphilis cases three years straight and two consecutive years with more than 6,000 cases–Prior to 2018, the last time Japan saw more than 6,000 syphilis cases was 48 years ago.

In 2021, Japan eclipsed the 7,000 case mark with 7,873 syphilis cases. According to the Japanese news source, Mainichi, last year’s numbers prompted medical specialists to warn that it has become a “common” sexually transmitted disease.

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“Syphilis has become a common venereal disease,” said Yukari Kugishima, a doctor and the head of Shinjyuku Ladys Clinic in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. The number of patients diagnosed with syphilis at the clinic has shown a pronounced increase since August 2021.

By gender and age, women in their 20s formed the largest group of syphilis patients reported in 2021. Amid the rising infections among women, it is feared that the fetuses of pregnant women could contract congenital syphilis through the placenta, which can lead to stillbirths. Over the past several years, the number of congenital syphilis cases has hovered around 20 per year, with 21 newborns under the age of 1 confirmed to have the disease in 2021.

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.