COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Syphilis cases are doubling in central Ohio, with a growing number of cases seen among women and their newborns, according to Columbus Public Health.

“In 2019, we had about 600 cases of syphilis, and if you fast forward to 2021, we’ve seen a little over 1400 cases of syphilis, so our numbers have doubled,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner for Columbus Public Health.

Roberts said in 2019, 112 of those cases were among women, while in 2021, 376 were female. She said the disease can even be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child, which is called congenital syphilis.

“In 2019, we had about seven congenital syphilis cases, year to date, and we’re only in October,” said Roberts. “We’ve had 28 cases of congenital syphilis just this year, so that’s very, very concerning.”

The rise in cases is why Columbus Public Health is encouraging people to get tested regularly, and recognize the symptoms of syphilis, which often include a sore on the genitals or mouth, which can then turn into a rash if left untreated.

“Practicing safe sex as much as possible is really important, but also early prevention, early treatment,” said Dr. Shane Jeffers, a primary care physician with Mount Carmel.

Jeffers said treatment for syphilis patients can be done through medication or injection, that can be given at the health department or through a primary care doctor. He advises people get it done quickly, because if left untreated for a long period of time, it could lead to severe nerve or brain damage.

“We want to get you treated early, we don’t want people to have symptoms, not get tested, and then pass it on to ten other people, who pass it on to ten other people before they find out, because then it cascades and that’s where we’re seeing these increased numbers from,” said Jeffers.

Learn more about syphilis prevention and testing here.