Congenital Syphilis in Victoria
Date issued: 9 December 2022 – Update to Advisory issued 29 March 2021
Issued by: Assoc. Professor Deborah Friedman, Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Diseases)
Issued to: Health professionals and the Victorian community
- Congenital syphilis has re-emerged since 2017 in Victoria with 14 cases, including 6 cases of stillbirth.
- Congenital syphilis can be prevented with appropriate treatment and follow-up.
- Congenital syphilis can result in stillbirth, prematurity, and other adverse consequences in an affected baby.
- All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at routine antenatal testing in the first trimester.
- Syphilis testing should be repeated at 28 to 32 weeks’ gestation, and at delivery, in pregnant women who may be at risk of sexually transmissible infections.
- Any pregnant woman presenting with signs and symptoms suggestive of a sexually transmissible infection, regardless of gestation, should be tested for syphilis.
- Syphilis can be easily treated with long acting (benzathine) penicillin. Specialist advice can be obtained from an Infectious Diseases physician or sexual health service.
- Birthing hospitals must be made aware of a mother’s syphilis infection, even if it has been treated.
- Babies born to mothers who were diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy require specialist follow-up.
- Preventing congenital syphilis requires vigilance and active follow-up on the part of clinicians
- Read the full advisory: Congenital Syphilis in Victoria