MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A jump in syphilis cases among Minnesota women is concerning health officials, the Minnesota Department of Health announced Tuesday.

According to preliminary data for 2015, syphilis cases in women were up 63 percent compared to 2014.

The increase is occurring mostly in women of child-bearing age across all racial and ethnic groups – including pregnant women.

“Minnesota has not seen this many reported cases of syphilis in women in more than 20 years,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health.

Related: MDH Info On Syphilis

According to the MDH, 87 percent of all female syphilis cases in 2015 were concentrated in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and 13 percent in Greater Minnesota.

“We are working with our public health partners to address this significant increase and are taking the steps needed to curb it,” Ehlinger said.

The MDH says syphilis is spread through direct contact with a painless sore called a chancre during unprotected oral, anal and vaginal sex.

“The good news is that there is a test to detect syphilis and the disease can be cured with medication,” Ehlinger said. “The key is to get more people at risk of infection to get tested and for health care providers to do more screenings. Sexual partners of infected patients need to be tested and treated as well.”

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