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Japan health authorities have reported the syphilis case count for 2022 as of this month has topped 10,000, a first since such records have been kept.

Image/Robert Herriman

Officials put the total nationwide figure to 10,141 as of October 23. Tokyo leads the country in cases with nearly 3,000.

Sex with multiple partners met through social media and dating apps has been blamed as a factor behind the surge.

Syphilis was a major issue in Japan until shortly after the end of World War II, but the total reported cases declined to several hundred annually until 2011, when a rebound began.

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.

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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.