A health alert for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis has been issued for Lubbock County after identified cases tripled in the first four months of 2016.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 24 cases of syphilis were identified and reported in Lubbock County in the first four months of the year. That's compared to the eight reported cases the county had in the first four months of 2015.

Area doctors and medical providers are being asked to screen people at risk for the disease to help prevent its further spread, the alert reads.

Syphilis is passed to others through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Using latex condoms can reduce the risk of passing the disease to a partner.

Symptoms of syphilis include: a single or multiple sores that are firm, round and painless lasting three to six weeks in the first stage; skin rashes, sores, fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue (feeling very tired) in the second stage; and difficulty coordinating your muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, blindness, and dementia (mental disorder); damage to your internal organs and possibly death in the late and latent stages.

Syphilis can be treated by antibiotics and cured. However, it is possible to get the disease again after being treated.

For more information on syphilis symptoms, testing, prevention, and treatment, call the City of Lubbock Health Department at: (806) 775-2935. Visit the CDC's website for more information on syphilis.

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