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Outbreak declared as Syphilis rates rise in NWT

Rising Syphilis rates in the territory have caused the Chief Public Health Officer to issue a public health advisory declaring an outbreak.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 37 reported cases of syphilis, with 29 of those cases in Yellowknife.

The CPHO says these numbers dramatically exceed that seen in 2019, the last time a syphilis outbreak was declared.

Adults between ages 20 and 60 are experiencing high rates of infection, with the highest rates in those residents aged 30 to 39.

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The CPHO says since 2019, there have been two instances where a mother passed the syphilis infection to a developing newborn during pregnancy, resulting in congenital syphilis.

In response to the outbreak, there will be a dedicated phone in Yellowknife that provides confidential advice (call or text 867-446-5113) to people.

There will also be rapid access to syphilis and other sexually transmitted infection testing in Yellowknife as well as enhanced syphilis testing for pregnant women that occurs at three different stages during pregnancy.

To increase awareness and provide easier access, public health will be expanding walk-in clinic hours and cross-training more frontline staff to assist with patient assessments and follow-up.

They will also be creating targeted social marketing and ads, including information in local bars and youth centres, as well as general ads for residents.

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