Syphilis: Victoria Health issues warning after spike in congenital cases

As Victoria battles through a second wave of coronavirus the state has also been warned over a spike in another disease syphilis. Cases of the sexually transmitted disease are on the rise in Victoria, with 1640 last year compared to just 634 in 2014.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton today issued a warning about the disease, citing the risk syphilis poses to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Congenital syphilis occurs when a pregnant mother who has the STD passes it on to her unborn baby via the placenta.
The disease can have dire consequences for a foetus and could result in miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity and other side effects.
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There have been eight confirmed cases of congenital syphilis in Victoria over the last three years
“This has occurred on a background of an increase in notified cases of infectious syphilis in both men and women over the past six years, with the majority of notified cases in women being in women of reproductive age with the potential for the condition to occur in pregnancy,” an advisory from Health Victoria said.
Health Victoria has called for “active screening” of all pregnant women and including extra tests for mothers who might be at higher risk of passing syphilis to their baby.
In addition to routine antenatal screenings for syphilis during the first trimester, at-risk women should also repeat syphilis tests when they are 28 to 32 weeks pregnant and during delivery, they recommended.
Sexual contacts of pregnant women who have syphilis should also have follow-up testing and treatment in order to prevent them from reinfecting the mother.
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Syphilis can be divided into four different stages, with different symptoms for each stage.
Primary syphilis symptoms are sores in the genital area or mouth, while symptoms of secondary syphilis include a rash, swollen lymph nodes and a flu-like fever.
Latent syphilis has no signs or symptoms, while late syphilis symptoms include severe medical problems due to abnormalities in the brain, skin, bone and cardiovascular system.