January 27, 2019 8:10 pm
Updated: January 28, 2019 10:35 am

Syphilis rates quadruple in Winnipeg to 20-year high, says WRHA

Winnipeg's regional health authority says syphilis cases have risen dramatically in the past year.

Andrew Brookes

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is sounding the alarm on sexually transmitted infections in the city, warning that cases of syphilis are on the rise.

In 2018, the rate of syphilis in Winnipeg was four times higher than it was in 2017, according to the WRHA.

Dr. Pierre Plourde, medical officer of health with the WRHA, said these rates are the highest he’s seen in 20 years.

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“We knew syphilis was on the increase, but this is unheard of,” said Plourde.

The WRHA is still trying to figure out what is causing the uptick in syphilis cases, but health officials have analyzed data to better understand who is experiencing these infections.

According to the WRHA, almost two-thirds of those affected live in the downtown and Point Douglas areas of the city, and almost half reported using drugs, mainly methamphetamine.

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“It looks like people who are injecting meth are much more likely to get contaminated with syphilis,” said Plourde.

The WRHA is also concerned about a potential rise in HIV cases in Winnipeg. The city has already seen increases in Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and according to Plourde, an increase in HIV often follows those diseases.

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