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Health alert update: Congenital Syphilis in Victoria 9 December 2022

Congenital Syphilis in Victoria

Status: Active

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

Key messages

  • 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

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