By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Health officials in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, Ontario are reporting a significant increase in local cases of syphilis.
Ten cases were reported in both 2019 and 2020, compared to a previous average of 2-3 cases per year. In comparison, 16 cases have already been reported in 2021, 7 of these in the month of June.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) say individuals from a variety of age groups, relationship statuses, and sexual orientations are testing positive – meaning that anyone who is having condomless or unprotected sexual contact could be at risk. Many of the symptoms of syphilis are mild and may not be noticed, or may mimic other illnesses. If you’ve had condomless/unprotected sex, have a new partner, or have more than one partner, talk to a health care provider about testing – even if you have not noticed any symptoms.
Individuals in a relationship are also encouraged to consider testing, even if they have only one partner. If one partner is engaging in sexual activities outside of the relationship, they could be exposed to STIs and pass them on.
Symptoms of syphilis are often mild or may be attributed to other conditions. Early symptoms may include painless sores in the genital, mouth, or rectal area, swollen lymph nodes, rash, fever, malaise/general feeling of being unwell, sore throat, headaches, hair loss, and eye redness.
“While individuals may experience mild symptoms up to 6 months after exposure to syphilis, others might not experience or notice any symptoms at all, which makes it very easy to unknowingly pass the illness on to others,” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “If untreated, syphilis can lead to serious and long-term health complications including bone and organ damage, mental health problems, and even death. Syphilis is treatable when identified early – so please talk to your health care provider about testing if you have had unprotected sex.”
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