While most STDs were on the decline in 2020, syphilis is still a threat to North Dakotans.

According to Grand Forks Heraldwhile cases of syphilis in North Dakota decreased by about 18.5% in 2020, the sexually transmitted disease is still a threat to residents. Shari Renton, surveillance coordinator for STDs at the North Dakota Department of Health is quoted as saying that the disease is known as "the great imitator because the symptoms can mimic many other conditions," causing syphilis to be missed. She even went on to say that 2020's three cases of congenital syphilis were the first in North Dakota in about a decade.

How does syphilis affect a person?

If you are unaware, syphilis can do some serious damage to a person - and even to unborn children if the parent has the illness and it goes undetected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, syphilis has four stages - primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. Here is what happens at each stage:

  • Primary - Sore(s) where the infection entered the body and last from 3-6 weeks
  • Secondary - Rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions
  • Latent - No signs or symptoms
  • Tertiary - It does not always get to this stage, but if it does, the heart and blood vessels, and the brain and nervous system can be attacked.

How can you prevent STDs, including syphilis?

The CDC recommends that people protect themselves in ways you may expect. The only sure way not to catch an STD is not to have sex. A person's chances are lowered if they use condoms, practice monogamy, and get tested regularly.

Though the information is meant to be informative, it is a bit alarming and disturbing.

Of course, a person can do everything in their power to remain safe and STD-free, but how scary is it knowing that celibacy is the only surefire way to prevent one? Even if you are monogamous, you can trust your partner... BUT what if they had something before you were with them, or what if they cheat? Are you concerned about being exposed to an STD?

LOOK: What are the odds that these 50 totally random events will happen to you?

Stacker took the guesswork out of 50 random events to determine just how likely they are to actually happen. They sourced their information from government statistics, scientific articles, and other primary documents. Keep reading to find out why expectant parents shouldn't count on due dates -- and why you should be more worried about dying on your birthday than living to 100 years old.