Five years after the first cases were reported, a syphilis outbreak is still spreading in Halifax.

The numbers of the cases has increased every year, and the number of people being diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease is on the rise again this year.

73 cases were reported in 2013; there were only 33 in 2011 and 18 in 2009.

Left untreated, syphilis can cause heart problems, brain damage, blindness, and even death. Experts say a major problem is some people don’t even know they have it.

“It’s a painless sore that could be hiding somewhere on your body, that you don’t notice, and also, once you have it for a while, it can lay dormant and you don’t have any symptoms for a while,” says Medical Officer of Health CDH Doctor Robin Taylor.

The majority of the cases are men, but some women are being infected as well

“Certain behaviors, people assume they are safe. For example, it’s hard to get HIV through oral sex, whereas syphilis, you can get it like that through oral sex,” says Kirk Furlotte with Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Coalition.