St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota health officials are expressing concern about a sharp rise in the number of syphilis cases among Minnesota women.

The State Health Department says preliminary data for last year shows there was a 63-percent increase from 2014 and noted Minnesota has not seen this many reported cases of syphilis in women in over two decades.

The jump occurred primarily among women of child-bearing age in all racial and ethnic groups, including pregnant women. Over 85-percent of the cases were in the Twin Cities area, but the data also shows about half of the cases involving pregnant women were in Greater Minnesota.

Untreated, the sexually-transmitted disease can be a serious health threat and can lead to blindness, brain damage, heart problems and even death. For pregnant women, the infection can be passed on to infants and ]can result in stillbirth or premature birth.