The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has seen an increasing number of infectious syphilis cases in recent months in north central Saskatchewan.
A syphilis outbreak has been declared for the area that includes Prince Albert, Big River, Shellbrook, Spiritwood, Birch Hills, Christopher Lake and surrounding communities. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore.
An outbreak may be declared when more cases of disease than expected occur in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.
In the area that includes Prince Albert, Big River, Shellbrook, Spiritwood, Birch Hills, Christopher Lake and surrounding communities, fewer than seven syphilis cases were reported annually. From August to November 2019, 21 cases have been confirmed. The numbers of cases are subject to change, based on ongoing testing.
For syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, many infected people have no symptoms.
“We want the public to be aware of the risks associated with this infection, and how they can be prevented and treated,” said Dr. Khami Chokani, Medical Health Officer (MHO) Prince Albert with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “Syphilis is a treatable disease. It is important that individuals who are sexually active know their own status for syphilis. Knowing your status means that treatment can be provided and individuals can be helped to reduce the risk of spreading the illness.”
A multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary team is providing a coordinated, integrated response in these communities. The team includes health professionals from Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Ministry of Health, Indigenous Services Canada-Saskatchewan region, and Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority. The response is focused on testing, treatment and connecting persons to health and support services to reduce their risks.
Testing is free and confidential. Treatment will be offered immediately. Anyone can request testing to learn their sexual health status by visiting their physician or nurse practitioner, or by attending a walk-in or sexual health clinic. If necessary, individuals may visit a hospital emergency department for testing.
For more information, visit SHA's news page, the Government of Saskatchewan page or contact your physician, nurse practitioner or local public health office.