By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
In a follow-up on the syphilis situation in Alberta, Canada, health officials in the province say Alberta has not seen such high levels of syphilis since 1948.
With 765 cases reported in the province during the first three months of 2021, it appears that the sexually transmitted infection could be headed to another high.
Alberta declared a syphilis outbreak in 2019 with 2,265 cases of syphilis reported that year. This topped the previous year and previous year…
In fact, the rate of syphilis has increased by more than 10 times since 2014 when 160 cases were reported, including increases of nearly 200% in 2018 and 47% in 2019.
Then in 2020, 2,509 cases cases were reported, a nine percent increase from 2019 and the highest number so far.
“The highest rates we’ve seen since the 1940s, which is, of course, the pre-antibiotic era,” said Dr. Ameeta Singh, an infectious disease specialist who works at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.
“Despite all of our advances, we are seeing a horrifying rate of syphilis cases.”
The tragedy doesn’t stop there. Since 2014, there have been 73 cases of congenital syphilis, resulting in 14 still births.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, also mentioned COVID-19’s hand in the issue in a recent statement. “The majority of our public health resources have been directed at the COVID-19 response, as has been necessary. That has come at the cost of not fully working on other threats, like syphilis and opioid deaths,” she said.
Alberta Health Service’s message concerning getting tested for syphilis: STI testing is private and free to anyone in Alberta, and walk-in clinics are available throughout the province.
- Anyone experiencing STI-related symptoms.
- Anyone with a sexual partner who has an STI
- Anyone in a new, anonymous, or multiple sexual partners, should be screened every 3-6 months.
- All pregnant persons should be tested in the first trimester and again at the time of delivery.