Photo/Illutration Treponema pallidum, a bacterium that causes syphilis (Provided by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases)

Syphilis cases continued their alarming rise at a record-breaking pace in Tokyo, increasing more than 20 percent from the previous year, according to the capital’s health officials.

There were 1,366 patients with the sexually transmitted disease as of May 17, up 253 from the same period in 2022, the officials announced on May 18 at a meeting of infection experts.

In 2022, the total number of cases hit a record high in the capital since 1999, when such statistics were first collected.

Tokyo recently reported its first measles cases in three years. Experts at the meeting said the contagious disease can be serious particularly if contracted by adults.

They warned of more infections due to the increasing number of people visiting Japan with the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

The meeting was followed by a ceremony to hail experts for their role in fighting the long COVID-19 pandemic.

“You helped us tremendously in tackling the difficult questions of how to save people’s lives and health while keeping the economy going,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said as she grew visibly emotional.