Health officials in Manitoba are reporting a syphilis outbreak. There is evidence of heterosexual transmission across the province, with highest rates occurring in the Northern Health Region and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
The number of pregnant women diagnosed with Syphilis is rising with more than 10 infants treated for congenital Syphilis in the last six months. Lack of prenatal care and substance use have been identified as factors in these situations.
Congenital syphilis can have serious and permanent health impacts on a baby. It can cause miscarriage (losing the baby during pregnancy), stillbirth (a baby born dead), prematurity (a baby born early), low birth weight and death shortly after birth.
Up to 40 per cent of babies born to women with untreated syphilis may be stillborn, or die from the infection as a newborn.
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Manitoba Health is advising healthcare providers to test ALL pregnant women for syphilis within the first trimester (as well as screening for all other STBBIs). Screening for syphilis should be repeated at 28-32 weeks and again at delivery in women at high risk of acquiring syphilis (e.g., sex workers, those with multiple sex partners, injection drug users). Consideration can be given to repeat testing at 28-32 weeks and again at delivery in ALL pregnant women in areas experiencing heterosexual outbreaks of syphilis.
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