Social networking sites have been blamed for a dramatic increase in the number of people contracting syphilis.
According to Professor Peter Kelly, director of public health at NHS Teesside, there has been a four-fold increase in cases of the sexually-transmitted infection in the UK, with young women particularly affected.
He said the rise can be attributed to the growing number of people who are using social networking sites to meet others for casual sex.
“I don’t get the names of people affected, just figures, and I saw that several of the people had met sexual partners through these sites,” the expert stated.
He said it is important that people avoid high-risk sexual behaviours and that if they do indulge in casual sex they protect themselves by using condoms.
According to the NHS, syphilis is a bacterial infection that is usually passed on through sexual contact and can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early.
However, if left untreated, it can cause serious health problems including strokes, paralysis, blindness and even death.