Canada: Incidence of Syphilis on the Rise
March 16, 2007
Alberta Health officials are warning of an increase in syphilis incidence, including 202 infectious cases in 2006 -- a 41 percent increase from the 143 cases in 2005. The outbreak is demographically widespread by age, sexual orientation, religious faith, and socioeconomic status. On March 9, the agency began a public education campaign to inform the community about the disease.
Nine infants have been born with syphilis infection in the past two years, said Dr. Ameeta Singh, an infectious-diseases consultant with Alberta Health. One of the babies was tested for leukemia before the physician diagnosed the infection, which can appear as skin rashes, abnormal blood counts or liver and spleen problems, she said.
"It has spread beyond the traditional higher risk groups," said Singh. "It's not just in sex-trade workers. It seems to be in the more general population." Some infections are linked to oral sex.
About six months ago, the concentration of cases spread from the Capital Health region to almost every province, Singh said. It is virtually impossible to notify the transmitting partner in 65 percent of the cases because patients' partners were casual, unknown or untraceable, she said.
03.10.2007; Jodie Sinnema