Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) reported an additional 207 syphilis cases across the country through the end of August, bringing the total since the beginning of the year to 10,110 cases.
Tokyo accounts for 24.6 percent of the country’s cases with 2,490, followed by Osaka (1,365), Aichi (590), Fukuoka (588) and Hokkaido (479).
This compares with 8,155 cases during the same period in 2022, a 24 percent increase. A total of 10,141 syphilis cases were recorded through Oct. 23 last year. This is the first time syphilis cases topped 10,000 since records began.
Why are syphilis cases on the rise? The majority of infections are passed through sexual contact. In Tokyo, where the higher proportion of young people is a factor, an official with the Tokyo Metropolitan Infectious Disease Surveillance Center said, “One of the major causes is thought to be an increase in opportunities for sexual encounters.”
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.
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