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Hastings Prince Edward Public Health sounds alarm over rising syphilis cases

The Health Unit for Hastings Prince Edward is urging people to get tested after a spike in syphilis cases across the district.

The call comes as there has been a steady increase in cases reported over the past few years. Before 2019, the Health Unit diagnosed an average of 2 or 3 cases per year. Numbers began to increase in 2019, with ten cases reported then and again in 2020. So far there have been 16 cases reported in 2021, with 7 of them reported in June. Due to privacy issues, the health unit did not say where these cases were located.

The rise in cases has prompted the health unit to warn anyone having unprotected sex, regardless of age, relationship status or sexual orientation, to get tested. Symptoms of syphilis can be mild and mimic other illnesses. Symptoms include painless sores in certain areas of the body, swollen lymph nodes, rash, fever, sore throat, headaches, hair loss, eye redness and a general feeling of being unwell. Medical Officer of Health and CEO at Public Health, Dr. Piotr Oglaza says some people may not experience symptoms at all. However, if left untreated, they can lead to serious long-term health complications. Despite the risks, the infection is treatable if identified early, and can be treated at ER’s, walk-in clinics or your health care provider.

This is not the first time this year the health unit has sounded the alarm about an STI. In May, Public Health put out a warning about gonorrhea rates spiking. In 2020 there were 79 cases and 25 in the first 4 months of 2021.

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