Syphilis on the rise

Con­cerned peo­ple told to talk with healthcare provider

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE -

Prince Ed­ward Is­land con­tin­ues to see in­creased cases of in­fec­tious syphilis, said chief public health of­fi­cer Dr. Heather Mor­ri­son.

Since Jan­uary 2014, the province has been no­ti­fied of 15 lab con­firmed cases of in­fec­tious syphilis. The num­ber has been in­creas­ing steadily since 2010. From 1987 to 2009 there were only seven cases of syphilis in the province. With the in­crease, the province said there is con­cern oth­ers who have con­tracted the dis­ease un­know­ingly and should be tested.

Syphilis is pri­mar­ily a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tion caused by a bac­te­ria. It is trans­mit­ted by un­pro­tected oral, anal and vagi­nal sex. Early symp­toms of in­fec­tion may in­clude a pain­less ul­cer, rash, fever, swollen or en­larged lymph nodes, hair loss, and headaches. Symp­toms may or may not be present. If left un­treated, syphilis can cause se­ri­ous health com­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing heart prob­lems, brain dam­age, blind­ness and even death.

Any­one who thinks they may be at risk of an STI or are ex­hibit­ing symp­toms should ab­stain from un­pro­tected sex and seek med­i­cal care. Syphilis is di­ag­nosed with a sim­ple blood test and if caught early can be treated with a sin­gle dose of an­tibi­otics. Fol­low-up test­ing is very im­por­tant to en­sure that treat­ment has been suc­cess­ful.

Peo­ple with con­cerns are en­cour­aged to talk with their healthcare provider.

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