“In February, Yukoners were alerted to the concerning increase in syphilis cases in the territory. Last year, the rate of syphilis in the Yukon continued to escalate, surpassing any recorded rate in the territory since at least 1979.
“Worldwide, we are also seeing a rise of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a pregnant person passes the infection on to their child. This year in the Yukon, one case of syphilis was congenital in a newborn. The health of developing newborns can be severely affected by congenital syphilis and the impact of this condition depends on the duration of the syphilis infection, whether treatment was received and when.
“Syphilis is transmitted from one person to another through oral, vaginal or anal sex, as well as through other activities involving direct 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.
“Early detection and treatment of syphilis in pregnancy can help to prevent more severe outcomes of congenital syphilis. Getting treated promptly stops the disease from spreading, helps maintain your long-term health and is especially crucial during pregnancy to protect your developing baby.
“The best way to know if you have syphilis is to get tested. Yukoners are recommended to have routine prenatal screening for syphilis, as early in the pregnancy as possible, another at 28 to 32 weeks and another at delivery. If there is a positive result, the infection can be treated during pregnancy with medicine that is safe for both the pregnant parent and unborn baby.
“Routine screening for people without symptoms involves a blood test and for those with symptoms may also involve a swab of a sore or ulcer if present. Treatment is highly effective, often with just one dose of an antibiotic.”
Yukoners who are sexually active can reduce the risk of syphilis by using protective measures such as condoms and by undergoing regular testing.
Yukoners can get in touch with their health care provider or reach out to their local health center to schedule a test. For any additional inquiries, contact Yukon Communicable Disease Control at 867-667-8323.
The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Yukon Communicable Disease Control are actively engaging with health care providers, health care leaders and organizations that support pregnant people to promote testing.
To learn where you can get tested, visit https://bettertoknow.yk.ca/en/stis/testing.
Health and Social Services