Syphilis cases hit record high in Japan

The number of syphilis cases in Japan this year has hit a record high, already surpassing the total for all of 2021.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection transmitted mainly through sexual contact. Those who get the disease may show no symptoms, or ones that quickly disappear. If left untreated, patients could develop serious brain or heart problems.

Japan's National Institute for Infectious Diseases says 8,155 cases were reported from January through September 4. That's 1.7 times the figure for the same period last year and the highest since comparable data became available in 1999.

The total for 2021 was 7,983.

If cases continue to grow at the current pace, the annual total could exceed 10,000.

Kobe University Associate Professor Shigemura Katsumi, who oversees syphilis measures at the Japanese Association for infectious Diseases, says unprotected sex raises the risk of infection. Shigemura adds that more people are having sex with indefinite numbers of partners they meet through the internet.

Shigemura stresses that syphilis is curable, so anyone who is worried about the risk of infection should not hesitate to get tested.