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Health experts report dramatic rise in syphilis cases in Simcoe Muskoka


Officials with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) are sounding the alarm on a troubling trend of increased syphilis infections.

According to health experts, syphilis cases dramatically increased across Simcoe Muskoka over the past six years, with current statistics showing 86 confirmed cases currently in the region, while in 2018, there were only 12.

The most significant increase in cases has been among women, although most cases are still in men.

Health officials are also reporting a concerning influx of infections in pregnant people and newborns throughout Canada.

"For individuals who have symptoms, they will start having symptoms two weeks after being infected. They may see symptoms such as painless sores on the genitals or mouth, or they may have flu-like symptoms, they may have a rash, or they may not have symptoms at all," explained Yen Phan, SMDHU's sexual health program manager.

While syphilis has become an increased problem nationwide, Ontario's numbers are below those reported in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Experts say blood work testing is the only way to track and prevent the disease from spreading.

At the Gilbert Centre in Barrie, staff are doing their part to help residents wanting to get tested.

"Just including routine STD testing as a normal part of our health care that you get done regularly is really important," noted Champagne Thomson, the centre's manager of community outreach and fundraising.

Thomson added more people are accessing treatment "because syphilis is very treatable" and most often treated through a dosage of antibiotics.

Health officials say testing is free and covered by OHIP. Anyone interested in being tested should visit a public clinic or family physician. Top Stories

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