07/16/2015 01:03 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Infectious syphilis cases on the rise in P.E.I., health officer issues advisory

CHARLOTTETOWN - The number of cases of infectious syphilis has prompted Prince Edward Island's chief public health officer to issue an advisory.

Since January 2014, the province has been notified of 15 lab confirmed cases of infectious syphilis and noticed a steady increase since 2010.

The chief public health officer is concerned there may be others who have contracted the disease unknowingly and should get a blood test to determine if they are infected.

Early symptoms of infection can include a painless ulcer, rash, fever, swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, hair loss, and headaches.

Syphilis can cause serious health complications if untreated, including heart problems, brain damage, blindness and even death.

In Prince Edward Island, the public says the majority of cases are men but some women are being infected as well.