The Chronicle

STI ‘concern’ growing in Victorian town

- ANTHONY PIOVESAN

A SPIKE in syphilis cases among women living in the Victorian town of Mildura has health officials worried the infection will be passed onto babies during pregnancy and at birth.

Fresh data compiled by the Department of Health and obtained by NCA NewsWire showed there had been 76 cases of the sexually transmitte­d infection in the northwest regional Victorian city since January 17.

Of those cases, 50 per cent were in women, while across the rest of the state women only accounted for 11 per cent of infectious syphilis cases.

It sparked health authoritie­s to this week launch a new campaign targeting residents in Mildura – particular­ly women – over fears of congenital syphilis, where the infection is passed from mother to foetus in utero.

The Department of Health figures also showed there had been 12 cases of congenital syphilis in Victoria since 2017. Prior to that there were just two cases in the previous 20 years.

Victoria acting deputy chief health officer Dr Mihaela Ivan said the numbers were “of concern” as syphilis could be transmitte­d from mother to baby during pregnancy and at birth.

“Syphilis can cause miscarriag­e, stillbirth and serious birth defects in the baby,” she said.

“We are urging both men and women to get tested, as there may be undiagnose­d cases in Mildura.

“Anyone planning on having a family should get tested to prevent passing on the syphilis infection.”

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