Syphilis warning after STI outbreaks in Wakefield

Cases of syphilis in Wakefield have doubled since 2012
Cases of syphilis in Wakefield have doubled since 2012

Health professionals are concerned about repeat outbreaks of syphilis in Wakefield.

Social media campaigns have been launched to raise awareness of the sexually-transmitted infection (STI), cases of which have more than doubled in the Wakefield district since 2012.

If diagnosed early, syphilis can normally be treated with a course of antibiotics. If left unnoticed, however, it can spread to the brain and cause serious long-term damage.

While the STI rate in Wakefield remains relatively low compared to the rest of England, diagnoses of syphilis moved about the national average in 2016.

A report on the issue, which will go before the district's Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday, says: "Wakefield continues to experience outbreaks of syphilis diagnosis, particularly in young heterosexual individuals.

"Social media campaigns have been undertaken in Wakefield targeted at this population group to raise awareness of the outbreaks.

"There are plans in place for these to continue, as well as raising awareness amongst health professionals and groups working with young people on the rise in syphilis and associated risks of the STI."

More than 1,600 people in the district were diagnosed with an STI in 2016, most of them aged between 15 and 24.

The report also says that nationally high levels of gonorrhoea are of "particular concern" after a strain of the disease which is resistant to treatment was first found two years ago.

In June 2017 a total of 81 people were known to have this, with more than half of those cases detected in London.

In numbers

Wakefield residents diagnosed with STI in 2016 - 1,665 (743 males, 922 females)

Proportion of diagnosed aged between 15 and 24 - 63%

Proportion of STI sufferers across England aged between 15 and 24 - 51%

Number of STIs per 100,000 people in Wakefield - 499

Number of STIs per 100,000 people across UK - 750