A RISE in syphilis cases in Lanarkshire has prompted a public health warning for the festive season.

The increase has been most marked in heterosexual men and women aged over 20, and in gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

In 2017, Lanarkshire residents accounted for a third of the heterosexual cases of the bacterial infection in Scotland.

There were 19 cases of heterosexually acquired syphilis and 48 cases in men who have sex with men.

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Syphilis is a bacterial infection that affects both men and women and is passed on easily by unprotected (condom-less) vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Dr John Logan, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said: “The festive party season is often associated with an increase in risk-taking sexual behaviour.

“Some people are not aware of the risk of syphilis or see it as an infection of the past.

“That’s not the case and with an increase in the number of people in Lanarkshire being diagnosed with syphilis, we feel it is important to highlight to people the risks of unprotected sex.”