UTICA, N.Y. -- Health officials and providers are warning people across Oneida County of a significant increase in syphilis cases.

Early cases have gone up 200 percent this year.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease with different stages. Experts say it is highly contagious and doesn't always show symptoms.

There have been 15 cases so far in Oneida County, and three of those diagnosed are women. That especially concerns health officials if those women plan to become pregnant.

"They can pass it on to babies that are born so it's important if you are pregant that you are being screened for Syphilis and HIV to make sure you're not going to pass this on to your baby," said ACR Health Executive Director Wil Murtaugh.

Syphilis can be treated, so officials are urging the public to get tested and follow-up with treatment if necessary. It can be cured with antibiotics from a health care provider. A long-lasting form of penicillin is often used, but there are other options.

Health experts also say syphilis is preventable.

People can protect themselves by abstaining from sex or using a latex or polyurethane condom. However, condoms will not stop the risk of getting the disease if they don't cover a syphilis rash or ulcer.