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Blinding cases of syphilis found on West Coast, now potentially in L.A.

More cases of ocular syphilis - an STD that can cause blindness - spark concern

Public health officials across the West Coast are urging medical professionals to look out for cases of ocular syphilis – a sexually transmitted disease that can cause blindness – after two potential cases in Los Angeles recently.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an advisory for primary and eye-care providers to look out for symptoms associated with the disease, which is usually a complication of primary or secondary syphilis infections.

With more than a dozen cases – most of them among gay men – reported between Seattle and San Francisco and now potentially two in Southern California, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is calling for medical professionals to do more.

“These new cases … highlight the importance of ongoing, regular check-ups for sexually active individuals who feel they may be at risk, particularly men who have sex with men," said AHF President Michael Weinstein in a statement.

Some of the patients also are HIV positive, including six in San Francisco. In Seattle, two of the patients went blind.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California’s syphilis rate was second in the country behind only Georgia. Los Angeles also had the highest number of primary and secondary cases of syphilis of any county in the U.S. in 2013, the CDC reported.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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