Polk County’s health department is reporting a spike in the area’s number of syphilis cases. Health department officials say that they have confirmed 130 cases this year. In a normal year, there are 10 to 20 cases.
As concerning, says health department official Sarah Boese, is that there has been an increase in the re-infection rate, where people who receive treatment contract the disease again.
The disease causes sores on various parts of the body. The sores can disappear, though syphilis bacteria continue to attack internal organs. They can cause damage to bones, the heart and the brain.