Scottish patients given botched tests for syphilis

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HEALTH officials are contacting a number of Scottish patients who were given botched tests for syphilis.

Experts are investigating test kits used on the NHS to diagnose the bacterial infection, which is passed on through sexual contact.

So far, 75 patients in Scotland and England have been found to have inaccurate results, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA). About half were diagnosed with syphilis when they did not have it. The rest were identified as being in the later stages of the disease when they were in the early stages.

The testing kit, which has since been withdrawn, was used between November 2010 and September 2011.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have been made aware of this issue by the HPA and are being kept informed. The numbers affected in Scotland are very, very small and patients are being appropriately followed up.

“There is no public health risk involved and people do not need to be unduly concerned.”

There were 152 cases of syphillis in Scotland in 2010, and more than half – 79 – were in Lothian.

About 5,000 cases of syphilis are diagnosed throughout the UK each year. If diagnosed early, the disease can be easily treated with antibiotics, usually penicillin.

But if left untreated, it can progress to a more dangerous form of the disease, which can eventually cause stroke, paralysis, blindness and death.