Eastern Health reports increase in syphilis cases in N.L.

Eastern Health is warning of an increase in the rate of infectious syphilis in the region.

Health officials first warned of a syphilis outbreak in the province in 2015 and then again in 2017. Thirty-three cases of syphilis were reported in the Eastern Health area in 2018.

The most recent cases involved both men and women between the ages of 15 and 68. The health authority also says the first cases of confirmed and suspected congenital syphilis were reported last year.

Congenital disease is spread from a pregnant woman to an unborn child. Health officials say when passed on to a baby, syphilis can result in miscarriage, newborn death, and severe lifelong physical and developmental problems.

A pregnant woman may not know she has syphilis and that her baby is at risk, and authorities are encouraging early and regular prenatal care.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that is passed on through unprotected sex. It can cause serious and permanent damage including blindness and dementia if left untreated.

Symptoms including an open sore at the point of infection, flu-like illness, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and rash appear within 10 to 90 days after infection and fade over time, but the infection remains within the body leading to greater problems if left untreated.

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