Syphilis is spreading fast in Alberta, and the number of reported cases have risen exponentially over the last decade. According to a report by the Alberta Health and Wellness, reported cases of the sexually transmitted infection have risen from two in 1999 to 267 in 2009. “We have a problem,” reads the first headline of the document, titled The Syphilis Outbreak in Alberta. “Alberta continues to experience a sustained outbreak of syphilis which shows no signs of abating,” the report says. The bacterial infection is transmitted through intimate sexual contact, and can be easily treated if detected in its early stages. It frequently has no symptoms, though, and if left untreated, can spread to the brain, heart, blood vessels and bones, and can eventually be fatal. Dr. Martin Lavoie, Alberta’s deputy chief medical officer of health, believes the spread of the infection is partially caused by a growing complacency about safe sex, particularly as people have come to view HIV as a treatable condition rather than a deadly infection.