In northern Ontario, babies have also been born with the virus after being infected in the womb or during birth
Rising syphilis rates have prompted a warning from the Timiskaming Health Unit (THU).
In the notice issued on Friday (September 9), the health unit warns that it expects more cases in the coming months due to the current trend.
Cases of congenital syphilis — when a baby is born with the virus after being infected in the womb or during birth — have also been reported in northern Ontario. The advice explains that this often happens if the birth parent was untreated or unaware of their infection.
“If you are pregnant, it is important to consult with your health care provider about testing. Anyone who is pregnant should be tested. The test is essential to prevent the spread of syphilis to the baby,” says Dr. Glenn Corneil, THU’s acting physician in THU. health and managing director, in the press release.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that spreads through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex, the health unit explains. Early symptoms include sores at the exposure site that may appear up to three weeks after exposure. A rash on the palms and feet and fever are other symptoms.
The health unit encourages people to use condoms and other barriers to prevent the virus. Condoms and other resources are available for free at health department offices.
“Anyone who has had unprotected sex with new or multiple partners should seek a confidential free syphilis test from THU or from their health nurse,” reads the press release.
More information is available here.