The Middlesex-London region of Ontario just announced some unsettling news on Tuesday. There is a community-wide syphilis outbreak happening and the city has seen the number of infected people this year triple compared to five years ago. The Ontario outbreak is a huge cause of concern for residents as well as the Middlesex-London Health Unit, especially since it isn't the first case this year. 

The number of people who have contracted syphilis in Middlesex-London has climbed to 113 cases.

This is the second time since 2005 that the local rate of cases is higher than the provincial rate, according to the MLHU.

They have also found that the trends are changing when it comes to who is getting infected.

At first, health officials noticed that those with the infection were mainly men who were having intercourse with other men. 

Now, they are noticing that most of the people who are infected are heterosexuals and those involved in the sex trade, according to the news release. 

Health officials still aren't sure what is causing the rise in syphilis infections, but they are concerned that they are occurring more easily than before. 

The MLHU is emphasizing that the best way to prevent contracting it is to use a barrier method such as a condom. 

This will also help to protect people from a number of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

“We want to emphasize that something is happening that is causing the case numbers to increase, and that syphilis transmission is occurring more easily,” says Dr. Alex Summers, Associate Medical Officer of Health with the MLHU.

This isn't the first time the infection has been a problem in Ontario. Ottawa was dealing with this just a few months ago. 

In fact, STIs have actually been on the rise throughout all of Canada in the past few years. 

The MLHU is urging people to get tested for this extremely dangerous infection, as they fear more people may be at risk. 

The first signs of syphilis may take anywhere from 10 days to 3 months to become noticeable, according to Medical News Today

If not treated on time, it can lead to neurological disorders such as dementia. It can also cause vision loss, bone and joint pain, and even death. 

One of the first early-stage ways that syphilis manifests is by appearing as a painless sore on the genitals or mouth.

Part of what makes it so dangerous is that it can lie dormant for years, meaning a person has no symptoms until they suddenly do. 

“For many people, syphilis is seen as a disease of the past. It is not. We’re seeing that today. It’s a disease of the here and now,” Summers told The London Free Press

Health officials say that the most significant trend they are seeing is that those with STIs are people who did not use condoms. 

There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.

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