As of 14 November 2018, SA Health has alerted medical practitioners that a syphilis outbreak has been extended to the Adelaide region. The outbreak of infectious syphilis was originally reported in November 2016, affecting rural and remote Aboriginal communities in the Far North and Eyre and Western regions of South Australia.
Since the outbreak in November 2016, 49 people have been diagnosed with syphilis in the Far North and Eyre and Western region. In metropolitan Adelaide, there have been 15 notifications of syphilis. SA Health reports that these notifications mark a “small but sustained increase in the past six months”.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a bacterial infection and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Syphilis is usually passed on during anal, oral or vaginal sex. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. There are four stages of syphilis infection: primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. Each of these stages present different symptoms.
Despite the serious health problems associated with syphilis it can be easy to cure if treated early. Therefore it is essential that medical practitioners understand the importance of testing and treatment of syphilis as well as the partner/s of those with infectious syphilis.
For medical practitioners SHINE SA has recently recorded a free Clinical Education Forum with Dr Carole Khaw a Consultant Sexual Health Physician at Adelaide Sexual Health Centre. This can be accessed here: www.shinesa.org.au/events/education-forums/
For more general information on syphilis, SHINE SA has released the following Fact Sheet. This can be accessed here: www.shinesa.org.au/health-information/sexually-transmitted-infections/what-is-syphilis/