Peterborough Public Health has declared a community-wide syphilis outbreak.
According to a news release, there were 15 cases of the sexually transmitted disease in 2019 — up from nine confirmed cases in 2018. Peterborough Public Health serves the City of Peterborough, Peterborough County and Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations.
The health unit says while the number of syphilis cases is increasing across Ontario, the Peterborough area has seen an “acceleration” in the number of cases reported during the past few months.
The cases have been confirmed in people of both genders who identify as heterosexual between the ages of 25 and 45 years old.
“These individuals have often had lower-risk encounters,” the health unit stated.
The health unit is encouraging those who engage in unprotected sexual activity and/or have multiple sexual partners without the use of condoms, to get screened for syphilis.
Symptoms, which can progress in multiple stages, include chancres or non-painful ulcers in the genitals or mouth, lymphadenopathy, body rashes, fever, malaise, sore throat, headaches, alopecia, uveitis and retinitis.
The health unit says benzathine penicillin G is specialized as a first-line therapy for syphilis. It can be accessed by calling the sexual health unit at 705-748-2021. A public health nurse can also be consulted by calling the sexual health clinic.
For more complicated cases, patients can be booked at the sexual health clinic or referred to the positive care clinic by calling 1-866-303-2420. The clinic runs satellite clinics in Peterborough twice weekly where an infectious disease specialist can be consulted.