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Health alert – Update – Congenital Syphilis in Victoria 29 March 2021


Update – Congenital Syphilis in Victoria

Status: Active

Date issued: 29 March 2021 (update to Advisory issued 22 July 2020)

Issued by: Adjunct Clinical Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer, Victoria

Issued to: Health professionals and the community


Key messages

  • Victoria continues to experience an upsurge in syphilis.
  • Untreated or inadequately treated syphilis in a pregnant woman can result in congenital syphilis in the baby, a serious public health problem, that has re-emerged in Victoria, with ten cases reported since 2017.
  • Congenital syphilis can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight and a variety of other possible adverse consequences in an affected baby.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis during routine antenatal testing in the first trimester and these tests should be repeated in any pregnant woman presenting at any stage of pregnancy with signs and symptoms suggestive of a sexually transmitted disease (such as a genital lesion).
  • Syphilis testing should be repeated at 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy, and at delivery, in pregnant women who may be at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Syphilis can be easily treated with long acting (benzathine) penicillin, and advice on the appropriate treatment and follow up of a pregnant woman diagnosed with syphilis can be obtained from any Infectious Diseases Clinic or the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
  • Preventing congenital syphilis requires active intervention and follow-up on the part of treating clinicians. Babies born to mothers who had been diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy require specialist follow-up. 

Read the full advisory: Congenital Syphilis in Victoria




Authorised by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.
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