Canada’s two western provinces are experiencing a revival but not a good one. The Alberta health authorities are concerned that STDs increased by 80% between 2014 and 2015. The two main diseases being spread are gonorrhea and syphilis. Both these diseases are reportable so fairly good statistics can be kept.
Cases of gonorrhea are mainly being spread in the heterosexual community. Syphilis is being spread mainly within the male homosexual community with 300 cases reported in 2015.
British Columbia hasn’t fared much better. The rate of STDs in this province has the Vancouver Coastal Health people concerned. In particular the concern is with the increase in infective syphilis cases. VCH had nearly 500 cases last year. The largest increase in incidence is in the male, 20 to 24 year old age group. By far the preponderance of cases is in the gay, bisexual or those who have sexual contact with other men. VCH is urging men who fall into those categories to get tested every six months.
This disease is spiking in the US as well, mainly among the male, gay communities. Las Vegas recently declared an outbreak in their community.
While Syphilis is mainly thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, it can affect the unborn, with serious consequences. WHO estimates that currently, worldwide, about a million pregnant women are infected and they are embarking on a programme to try to eliminate congenital syphilis.
The disease is curable with antibiotics. Leaving the infection untreated will result in serious health problems and an early death. It is caused by an organism known as a spirochaete which is corkscrew shaped.
Spirochaetes can cause other diseases as well. Bejel, Pinta and Yaws are all spread by contact and attack first the skin and then lead to more serious damages. Other serious infections caused by this class of organism are: leptospirosis, Lyme disease, rat-bite fever and relapsing fever.
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