OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Department of Health is facing an unprecedented number of syphilis cases in Oklahoma County.

The department is combating the problem with boots on the ground. 

"We have upwards of 1,500 contacts that we have been looking for, have found, or are still have yet to find," said Jan Fox, state health department's HIV/STD service director.

Disease intervention specialists are tasked with identifying infected patients and their partners with the goal of getting them into treatment. 

But with the number of cases nearly quadrupling from 62 cases in March to 235 in December, Fox said the department is spread thin. 

"We're seeing people who have exchanged sex for drugs, or people under the influence of drugs have made decisions they wouldn't ordinarily make," Fox said.

The effects are devastating if left untreated. 

In its final stages, patients can suffer damage to the brain, eyes and heart. 

The STD affects all races and ages.

So far in 2017, there's been three stillbirths in Oklahoma attributed to the disease. 

The health department offers free to low cost testing.