HOUSTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Health authorities on Wednesday declared a syphilis outbreak in Houston and Harris County in the U.S. state of Texas. The health department of Houston reported a nearly 100 percent increase in new infectious syphilis cases during the first seven months of 2012 compared to the same time period last year, according to the website of daily newspaper The Houston Chronicle.
News of the outbreak came after yearly decreases in new syphilis cases between 2008 and 2011.
There were 318 infectious syphilis cases in Harris County from January through August of this year, compared with 264 cases in 2011, Houston's health department said.
The cases in 2012 amount to 7.5 cases per 100,000 people, up from 4.2 through the same period in 2011. The recent high is 7.8 cases per 100,000 people in 2007, according to reports.
Local health authorities have urged immediate testing for syphilis for men who have sex with men, people who engage in anonymous sex, anyone who has had multiple sex partners, and people who test positive for other sexually transmitted disease.
Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, can cause serious complications if left unchecked.