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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The Lubbock Health Department is gaining new resources to combat a rise in sexually transmitted infections across the area.

Lubbock county saw a nearly 300% increase in syphilis cases. Hockley and Terry county also saw a significant rise.

The state health department reported Lubbock County has seen cases increase from 111 to 452 (307.2%). Hockley County reports have increased from 3 to 36 cases (1,100%). Terry County has seen an increase from 13 to 24 cases (84.6%)

Health director Katherine Wells says a jump in cases is a result of the public health workforce redirecting their efforts to the covid-19 response.

Syphilis is a treatable sexually transmitted infection.

It often causes sores, rashes, and if left untreated, can lead to dementia and even blindness.

Without care, pregnant women can pass on the infection to their newborns.

Wells says syphilis goes undetected as a painless sore, but her clinic often finds folks in the second stage of the infection.

โ€œThatโ€™s when we see a rash on the soles of their feet, or on the palms of their hands. People can also have hair loss, vision. Like a body rash, theyโ€™ll often see the whole trunk of the person when they take their shirt off, will have a red splotchy rash on their trunk,โ€ Wells said

Fortunately, the health department received state grant money to hire disease intervention specialists.

โ€œWeโ€™re anticipating receiving the grant for syphilis elimination starting in March, and we actually have those positions posted right now. So, we will have local resources here dedicated specifically to Lubbock County, to work in that area. And that will also allow us to adjust our resources here to ensure that those staffs continue to work even through the COVID pandemic,โ€ Wells said

Wells encourages folks to get tested regularly and remember testing for syphilis is done by withdrawing blood.

If you do not have insurance, you can get tested & treated for $20 by the health department, or you can make an appointment for Planned Parenthood online as well.