Washoe County is reporting an increase of infectious syphilis cases since 2013. Nationally, syphilis cases increased 19% from 2014 to 2015 and Nevada is ranked 4th for primary and secondary syphilis cases.

According to the Washoe County Health District, the primary lesion of syphilis usually appears about 10 to 90 days after exposure. Medical experts say patients with any genital ulcer should have a syphilis serology and a herpes culture during their initial visit to rule out these infections.

Secondary syphilis can present itself as a rash – typically rough, red or reddish brown spots about the size of a penny. The rash may cover the whole body or appear only in a few areas; the palms of the hands and soles of the feet are almost always involved. Symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, patchy hair loss, fatigue, headache, and weight loss.

Health experts say men who have sex with men should be screened for syphilis at least once a year.

Penicillin G is the preferred drug for treating all stages of syphilis.

To learn more about the outbreak, testing and treatment, tonight’s Ask the Doctor guest is Jen Howell. She is the Sexual Health Program Coordinator at the Washoe County Health District. Lines are open from 5 – 6 p.m. at (775) 858-2222.