HEALTH bosses have warned of an increase in cases of a sexually transmitted disease.

NHS Lanarkshire said an increasing number of people are being diagnosed with syphilis in the area.

To prevent further cases, doctors are urging anyone with symptoms or anyone who thinks they may be at risk to get tested.

If untreated, syphilis can lead to serious damage to the heart, arteries and the nervous system. In 2012, a total of 17 cases of syphilis were diagnosed by NHS Lanarkshire's Sexual Health Service. This year has already seen 19 new cases.

Clinician Anne McLellan from the service said: "Although the overall number of cases of syphilis diagnosed by the Sexual Health Service in Lanarkshire remains fairly low, we are seeing an increase.

"We have particularly seen an increase in the number of young people aged under 25 who have been diagnosed with syphilis."

Sufferers may develop a sore in the genital area or mouth. They may also develop a rash over their body, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The symptoms can disappear without the person being aware of them.

People can get tested by making an appointment with their GP or by attending a sexual health clinic.

Dr McLellan said: "Anyone who thinks they have symptoms of syphilis, or are otherwise at risk of infection, should be tested. Once diagnosed, treatment for syphilis is both effective and usually straightforward."

NHS Lanarkshire is running "quick check" clinics where no appointment is necessary. The number to contact for details is 0800 085 8531. Those with symptoms can make a sexual health clinic appointment by calling 0845 6187191.