Like Germany, Japan and the US, New Zealand has reported a jump in syphilis cases between 2013 and 2014, according to newly published data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).


The number of cases of syphilis reported by sexual health clinics (SHCs) and family planning clinics (FPCs) increased notably between 2013 and 2014 (from 85 to 141 cases), according to the report, with Auckland (85) and  Canterbury (27) reporting the most.

The cases were predominantly male (95.7%), men who had sex with men (MSM), and occurred most commonly in the 20–24 years and 30–34 years age groups. Of the male cases 89.6% (121/135) were MSM including 14 cases who also had sex with females. All females for which sexual behavior information was recorded (83.3%, 5/6) were heterosexual.

There was better news concerning new gonorrhea infections in New Zealand in 2014. Both the raw number of cases and the rate per population dropped from 2013 to 2014 (3344 and 78/100,000 population in 2013 vs 3038 and 70/100,000 population in 2014).

In Auckland, the number of cases decreased by 325 cases (1596 to 1271), certain area saw an increase in cases–Waikato, Taranaki, Whanganui, MidCentral, Nelson Marlborough and South Canterbury.

In 2014, the prevalence of resistance to penicillin and ciprofloxacin among N. gonorrhoeae isolates was 9.6% and 36.1% respectively. Ceftriaxone is now considered the first-line treatment for gonorrhoea. While no ceftriaxone resistance has been detected in New Zealand to date, an isolate with decreased susceptibility to ceftriaxone (MICs typically 0.06 mg/L) was identified in Canterbury DHB last year.

Concerning other sexually transmitted infections in New Zealand,  in 2014, genital chlamydia infection was the most commonly reported STI in the country with 28,331, the very slight increase from 2013 (28,316).

In 2014, 1155 first presentations of genital herpes were reported; 834 cases were seen in SHCs and 321 cases in FPCs with a slight decrease being reported from SHCs and a more significant increase in SHCs.



Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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