Cases of syphilis on the rise in Mississippi

MISSISSIPPIĀ -- The number of syphilis cases in the state of Mississippi is skyrocketing.

The health department reports they're up nearly 60 percent this year.

Technology is often credited with helping young people communicate more, but that could also lead to sharing something else.

"Historically, syphilis has been more of an older disease, but it's skewing younger right now," said Dr. Nick Mosca, director of the Bureau of HIV/STD for the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The health department says there have been over 200 people diagnosed with syphilis this year, compared to nearly 80 less for the same time last year.

"Another factor of exposure right now is the use of mobile devices and the internet that makes it easier to meet people," he said.

The department doesn't track income or insurance when it comes to testing but does track other factors.

"The speculation is that the syphilis rate is increasing primarily in males," said Dr. Mosca.

They say many of those men also have risk factors for HIV.

The spike is startling, but it's luckily a disease that can be cured inexpensively with penicillin.

"We'd have to drill down a little bit and see where people are living to localize," said Dr. Mosca.

Disease intervention specialists are now contacting those affected to make sure they're getting it cured.

They're also anonymously contacting people they could've spread it to offer confidential testing.

"It's just wise, especially if you're sexually active with different partners, then you should get a regular, sexual health check up," said Dr. Mosca.

Doctors recommend getting checked every three to six months if sexually active.