By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) report a national outbreak of early infectious syphilis (EIS) has been declared and is under investigation in Ireland since June 2021.

Image/Robert Herriman

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, EIS cases were rising and this had been identified as an area for urgent action. After a small decrease in cases in 2020, coinciding with the first wave of COVID-19, EIS notifications are increasing once more and are exceeding the numbers observed in 2019 and previous years.

In 2019, there were 745 confirmed cases of EIS reported, a 54% increase from 2018 (484 cases). The number of notifications significantly decreased in April 2020 (first wave of COVID-19), but following this decrease they increased throughout 2020, with a total of 562 cases reported in 2020.

Data for 2021 are incomplete but indicate that EIS notifications are increasing and exceeding those seen in previous years. There have been 242 cases reported between 1st January and 30th April 2021.

While the majority of cases continue to be reported in males, there is an increase in female cases and in heterosexual transmission.

The majority of cases continued to be reported by HSE East (Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow), 79 percent of cases; followed by HSE South (Cork, Kerry) (9% of cases) and HSE Midwest (Limerick, Clare, Tipperary North) (4% of cases).