Statement from the Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ranade on escalating rates of syphilis

“The Yukon is seeing increasing rates of syphilis across the territory which is cause for concern because it can cause serious, long-term health harms if left untreated. I encourage all sexually active Yukoners to use protection and make testing a regular part of their sexual health routine.

“Syphilis spreads from one person to another through oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or from other activities that result in skin-to-skin contact with a syphilis sore or rash. When syphilis spreads through contact, it causes a small painless skin sore (ulcer) to the area of contact, which people may not always notice because of its location. 

“If untreated, people are likely to develop a rash and other symptoms such as fever, swollen glands or hair loss.  Untreated syphilis also causes serious infections of the heart, blood vessels, or brain, especially if an infection persists for many years.

“With increasing rates of syphilis in the territory, there is an increased risk of congenital syphilis. This type of infection can impact a pregnant person and can cause very serious harm to the developing pregnancy.

“The good news is that treatment for syphilis is highly effective with the right antibiotic. Prompt treatment prevents ongoing transmission, protects from long-term health impacts, and is very important in pregnancy to protect the developing newborn.

“Although not perfectly protective, using condoms can reduce exposure to syphilis during sexual activity. People are not immune to syphilis after an infection and repeat infections can occur after treatment.

“The best way to know if you have syphilis is to get tested. Yukoners should get tested for syphilis if they are pregnant, have symptoms of syphilis, are sexually active, or are concerned they might have syphilis.

“Yukoners can contact their health care provider or community health centre to arrange testing and should call Yukon Communicable Disease Control at 867 667 8323 if they have further questions.”



Quick facts 
  • In 2022, 53 Yukoners were diagnosed with syphilis, representing 121 infections per 100,000 people per year.  

  • The 2022 rate is seven times higher than the 2021 rate, 17 times higher than 2020 rate and is higher than any rate reported on record since 1979.  

  • Syphilis infections are occurring in Whitehorse residents and residents of communities throughout the territory. 

  • Currently, syphilis is affecting primarily the heterosexual community in the Yukon.  

  • In 2022, the highest rates of infection are in those aged 20 to 39, with a rate of 250 per 100,000 people in this age group. 

  • The World Health Organization estimates that syphilis is a leading cause of stillbirths globally.  

  • In 2021, Canada reported that almost 100 children less than two years of age were diagnosed with congenital syphilis and this includes some stillbirths. 

  • The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Yukon Communicable Disease Control are reaching out to health care providers, health care leaders and organizations that support pregnant people to encourage testing.  


Carleen Kerr
Health and Social Services, Communications

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