Syphilis has been identified as a severe problem throughout Manitoba, which is currently experiencing a surge in new cases.
“What we are currently seeing in Manitoba is a significant increase in the number of cases [of syphilis],” states Dr. Michael Isaac, the Acting Chief Public Health Officer for the province.
According to Isaac, the sexually transmitted infection showed up in 368 cases throughout Manitoba in 2018, as opposed to 118 cases only five years ago. “And it’s important to note that this number will increase as case investigation reports continue to be completed,” he stresses.
Perhaps even more unsettling is the increasing number of cases in women which, as Isaac warns, is historically linked to cases of congenital syphilis in newborn infants.
Health statistics reveal that 16 women battled the infection in 2014, a number that has grown to 168 throughout the past year.
Syphilis passed down through pregnancy has been known to cause premature births, stillbirths, miscarriages, and many other health complications when the baby survives.
Up until recently, congenital syphilis had only been reported once in 2015 and once more in 2017. Now, however, within the past six months alone, over 10 cases have been treated among newborns. "The risk level has changed and we want to make sure the public knows about this."
Manitoba health experts are treating this increasing number of cases as an outbreak and are currently developing testing, treatments, and education to prevent the infection from spreading further.