Early infectious syphilis has been on the rise in Ireland to which the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) believes has been caused in part by Covid-19 restrictions.
A HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme spokesperson stated that the restrictions, which were imposed as a result of the pandemic, have inadvertently affected access to testing in sexual health clinics.
Cases were on the increase throughout last year with a total of 562 cases reported.
Although the data for 2021 is incomplete, there have been 242 cases reported in the first four months of this year.
Of the total cases, 79% were reported in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow, 9% in Cork and Kerry, and 4% in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary North.
An overwhelming majority of cases (91%) were reported in men while 9% of cases were reported in women.
The age cohort with the highest amount of cases was in 30 to 34-year-olds while the lowest was 20-24-year-olds.
The condition itself is easily treated but highly infectious and many people rarely display symptoms.
However, caution is urged as the condition, if left untreated, can result in serious health issues involving the brain, heart, eyes and nervous system.
The condition, which also takes years to develop, can pass from pregnant women to their children and potentially cause serious harm.
During the first wave of Covid-19, the vast majority of sexual health services were temporarily closed and although they have since reopened, they are still operating at limited capacity.