By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Health officials in Nova Scotia declared a provincial outbreak of syphilis after an increase of syphilis cases in 2019.
Preliminary data recorded 82 cases in Nova Scotia in 2019. That compares to approximately 50 cases in 2018 and 38 cases in 2017.
The cases to date have been diagnosed in people ages 20-to-65+ years across the province. There also appears to be an increasing proportion of cases among females (20 per cent) in 2019, compared to 10 per cent in 2018 and 5 per cent in 2017. This trend is consistent with the pattern seen in other jurisdictions in Canada.
While the majority of cases are in males, the 2019 data indicates an increase in syphilis cases in females compared to recent trends. As a precaution to prevent congenital syphilis (an infection in unborn babies or newborns which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects), Public Health and Reproductive Care Program recommends that doctors now test for syphilis twice in pregnancy. This second test, completed at 24 to 28 weeks, will complement the routine syphilis screening that takes place early in pregnancy.
To date there have been no reported cases of congenital syphilis in Nova Scotia.
“Safer sex practices and getting tested for syphilis can help decrease the number of syphilis cases we are seeing in Nova Scotia currently,” said Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia. “Knowing your status for sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, is really important for our health and also the health of others.”
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