OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KNWA/KFTA) — Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health encourage people to recognize the symptoms and seek free, confidential testing when needed to help combat syphilis infections across the state.

According to a press release from the Department of Health, syphilis is a bacterial infection that can easily be treated with antibiotics. However, symptoms can often be mistaken for common skin irritations.

The release says symptoms usually appear as a painless lesion, a sore that can be misidentified as a pimple, or an ingrown hair or skin irritation that could be mistaken for a rash or dry skin. The sore will eventually heal, but the infection remains and can still be passed on without proper treatment.

“It’s vitally important that people understand the signs and symptoms of syphilis,” said Terrainia Harris, director of the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service. “Treatment can cure the infection, but it can’t undo the damage that has already been done. We need to ensure that people get tested and receive treatment quickly.”

The release says if left untreated, syphilis in adults can cause blindness, severe neurological damage, bone damage and death.

Testing for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections can be done free and confidentially at any county health department.

The release says health officials encourage all sexually active individuals to get tested for STIs at least once. Those who are at higher risk of infection, such as those not in monogamous relationships, have multiple sexual partners or engage in higher-risk behavior, should test more frequently.

More information can be found here.