Alberta declared a syphilis outbreak in 2019 with 2,265 cases of syphilis reported that year. In 2020, another 2500 new infections were reported.
We are seeing a continuing increase in syphilis in the past several years that is deeply concerning. The rate of syphilis has increased by more than 10 times since 2014, when only 160 cases were reported.
Syphilis rates are increasing across Canada and internationally. Alberta has not seen such high levels of syphilis since the 1940’s.
Syphilis can be transmitted to babies when mothers are infected during pregnancy; this has resulted in over 170 infants being born with congenital syphilis since 2014. Congenital syphilis is a severe and life threatening illness with up to 40% of babies of infected mothers being stillborn.
Cases of syphilis have been observed across gender, sexual orientation, and age groups in this outbreak. Therefore, anyone engaging in unprotected sex outside a mutually monogamous relationship is at risk of syphilis infection and needs to use protection and get tested.
Syphilis can be treated but requires a special antibiotic provided by your healthcare provider.
STI testing is private and free to anyone in Alberta, and walk-in clinics are available throughout the province.
Call Health Link at 811, see your family physician / nurse practitioner, visit a walk-in medical clinic, or contact a STI or sexual health clinic.
AHS encourages all healthcare providers in Alberta to discuss STI/HIV screening with all sexually active persons during routine office visits.
Alberta Health Services, in partnership with Alberta Health and community partners, have been working together to support initiatives to address the ongoing transmission.
Sexual Health and COVID-19
Gov't of Canada
STI Services & Clinics
Call Health Link at 811. Learn more.