Eastern Health is advising the public of an increase of infectious syphilis cases, as well as the first cases of confirmed and suspect congenital syphilis, which is seen in infants, in the eastern region of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Rates of syphilis infection remained high in the province in 2018 with a total of 33 infectious syphilis cases.

Last year also saw the first cases of confirmed and suspect congenital syphilis. The risk of transmission to a fetus in untreated women is 70 to 100 per cent in early infection and up to 40 per cent in later stages of infection.

Eastern Health is reminding the public of the importance of safer sex practices, including the regular use of condoms and oral dams and routine testing for sexually transmitted infections.


While some people may not experience any symptoms, syphilis can produce different symptoms at each stage of infection, including:

  • an open sore at the point of infection (genital area, anus, mouth or lips),
  • flu-like illness,
  • muscle aches and pains,
  • fatigue, and/or
  • a rash on the chest, back, palms of hands and bottoms of feet.