STI numbers ‘keep going up’ in Alberta
edmonTon — alberta has recorded six cases of lifethreatening congenital syphilis in newborn babies this year, public health leaders announced Tuesday amid a worsening outbreak of sexually transmitted infections around the province.
“If untreated, this infection can cause deformed bones, jaundice, brain and nerve damage, meningitis and other serious health problems in the child,” said dr. deena Hinshaw, deputy chief medical officer of health for alberta Health.
“obviously, we are very concerned about these cases, as well as the ongoing high rates of sexually transmitted infections.”
alberta recorded 369 syphilis cases as of Halloween this year, putting the province on course to surpass last year’s total of 410. Gonorrhea rates have also skyrocketed to levels not seen since the late 1980s. a total of 3,869 infections had been recorded by the end of october this year, already higher than last year’s tally of 3,707.
When the outbreak was first announced, public health officials initially linked it to the emergence of social media sites used for anonymous sexual hook-ups. They vowed to use advertisements on those same social media services to raise awareness. aHs said Tuesday the campaign met with some success, driving traffic to the sexgerms.com website and prompting more people to get tested. That, in turn, produced more positives and pushed up the infection rates. However, progress from that campaign eventually stalled. “The numbers keep going up so we have to try to do something different,” said dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for aHs.