Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) say they are concerned about an uptick in syphilis cases in Laramie County.

Spokeswoman Kim Deti says six people have been diagnosed in the early stages of the disease recently. The fact that the infection was in the early stages is a concern because that means the sexually transmitted disease has been spreading recently and is a current problem.

Courtney Smith of the WDH says it's important to remember that there is no way to know how many other people in the area may have syphilis but not yet know it.

Syphilis is usually spread through unprotected sex.

Lack of condom use as well as having sex with strangers are considered major risk factors. Deti says one concern these days is people having sex with partners they meet online or through cellphone apps.

Since that usually means having sex with someone you know little or nothing about it's considered a major risk factor.

Some people who get syphilis get painless sores, or a rash on their hands and feet and a fever. But other victims don't experience any symptoms at all. The only way to be sure whether you have the disease is to get tested.

If left untreated, syphilis can lead to blindness, dementia, paralysis and even death. Health officials say you can reduce your risk for syphilis as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases by not having sex with strangers, using condoms and getting tested before starting a sexual relationship.

Vouchers for free or low cost STD testing are available online.