Home LATEST NEWS HEALTH Saskatchewan grapples with surge in syphilis cases

Saskatchewan grapples with surge in syphilis cases

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During the same period in 2019, only 40 cases were reported, according to Dr. Ibrahim Khan, a regional medical officer of health for Indigenous Services Canada.

We are very concerned… A large proportion of these people are homeless or have a precarious socioeconomic status and do not have access to carehe said

He believes the pandemic and increased testing have played a significant role in the spike in syphilis cases.

There were huge restrictions and isolation. People couldn’t get tested and get their blood tests, or see a doctor at the start of the pandemic. »

A quote from Ibrahim Khan, Regional Medical Officer of Health for Indigenous Services Canada

Beardy and Okemasis Cree Nation, located about 80 kilometers north of Saskatoon, is among the communities now seeing an uptick in infections. She released a health advisory on Tuesday to raise awareness.

We have upcoming information sessions, live sessions on Facebook to answer questions and screening dayswrote the management team.

The amount of infection is certainly very concentrated in indigenous communities, but it is just as high among indigenous people who live outside their communities or other people who live in cities and townssays Dr. Ibrahim Khan.

He adds that more pregnant women in Saskatchewan are being infected, which is of particular concern because they run the risk of passing the disease on to their unborn children. This can sometimes cause birth defects or death.

Indigenous Services Canada works with medical officers of health in Saskatoon, Regina, Battleford and Yorkton.

Dr. Khan is particularly concerned about access to testing for pregnant Aboriginal women.

A little baby's hand holds its mom's thumb.

More pregnant women in Saskatchewan are being infected, which is particularly concerning because pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the disease to their unborn child, according to Dr. Ibrahim Khan.

Photo: iStock

This is the group that is hardest to reach or has the most difficulty overcoming barriers to treatment such as testing clinics, he said.

We really need to focus this summer on reaching those at risk or in need of care and treatment. »

A quote from Ibrahim Khan, Regional Medical Officer of Health for Indigenous Services Canada.

Syphilis is a preventable and treatable disease. It manifests as sores in the genital area and can be cured with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can cause permanent neurological problems and even death.

Saskatchewan stands out in the country

Syphilis rates in Saskatchewan are usually two to three times higher than the national rate. They are considerably higher among First Nations. This is also the case for the HIV and tuberculosis.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the rate of syphilis infections has risen dramatically in the country over the past decade. Numerous outbreaks have also been reported over the past five years.

In addition, the rate of syphilis cases in Saskatchewan increased by 891% from 2016 to 2020, according to the federal agency.

In 2019, an outbreak was declared in north central Saskatchewan after 21 cases were confirmed from August to November.

In 2020, the rate of syphilis was 308.8 cases per 100,000 people in First Nations communities, compared to a rate of 24.6 per 100,000 in Canada, according to data provided by the National Health Branch. Indigenous Services Canada First Nations and Inuit.

The First Nations rate was approximately 13 times higher than the national rate, and four times higher than the Saskatchewan rate in 2020.

The province continues to see an increase and reported a rate of 633.2 syphilis cases per 100,000 people in 2021 in First Nations communities.

With information from Yasmine Ghana

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