Syphilis cases on the rise in the Prairies: Health Canada |

Syphilis cases are on the rise. From 2016 to 2020, the Prairie provinces reported increases of more than 400 per cent.

In Saskatchewan the rate is at 33.7 per 100,000 population according to a 2011-2020 report by Health Canada. In 2020, the majority (86%) of all confirmed early congenital syphilis cases reported in the country were observed in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation (BOCN) recently made a statement to raise awareness about syphilis outbreaks within the province. The release said that some parts of the province, including BOCN, have seen increases over 1000 per cent since 2019.

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“There has been an increase in the number of women being infected in pregnancy and sadly, children dying in the womb from syphilis or being born with complications of syphilis that can cause long term disability or even death.”

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The release recommends sexually active people get tested for syphilis at least once a year. It also says that having unprotected sex with multiple partners increases risk of infection.

Early symptoms include a painless ulcer on the genitals, a rash, hair loss, headaches, swollen lymph nodes. But up to 50 per cent of cases do not have recognizable symptoms. The disease is best diagnosed with a blood test and treated with antibiotics.

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Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship or using protection are two ways to reduce the risk, according to the release.

Pregnant women can protect babies in the womb by getting tested for syphilis during pregnancy and getting treatment promptly.

More to come…

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