09 December 2019 -  South Australian Syphilis Register for cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

A multi-jurisdictional syphilis outbreak affecting predominantly rural and remote Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander communities across northern Australia has been ongoing since January
2011. The Far North and Eyre and Western regions of South Australia (SA) were declared part of
the outbreak in March 2017, and extended to Adelaide in November 2018. Nationally, there have
been eight congenital syphilis cases linked to the outbreak, including one in South Australia in 2017.  

COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 
CONTROL BRANCH
- Attention all doctors - 
Date: 09/12/2019     Contact telephone number: 1300 232 272  (24 hours/7 days)

 

South Australian Syphilis Register for cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

 

A multi-jurisdictional syphilis outbreak affecting predominantly rural and remote Aboriginal and 
Torres Strait Islander communities across northern Australia has been ongoing since January 
2011. The Far North and Eyre and Western regions of South Australia (SA) were declared part of 
the outbreak in March 2017, and extended to Adelaide in November 2018. Nationally, there have 
been eight congenital syphilis cases linked to the outbreak, including one in South Australia in 2017.  

The Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB) has established the SA Syphilis Register
(the Register) as part of a comprehensive state-wide response to the outbreak.

The Register will:

  • Gather and consolidate available information regarding syphilis testing and treatment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander South Australians.
  • Assist clinicians and health services with diagnosing, staging and managing cases where required.
  • Assist with partner notification and contact tracing where required.

At the outset, the Register may have limited information, but will improve as further cases are
recorded on the Register. The Register will work in collaboration with health services and
Registers in other jurisdictions.

Clinicians and health services are advised to:

  • Notify cases of syphilis to the CDCB on 1300 232 272.
  • Contact the Register for assistance with diagnosing and managing syphilis cases (including partner notification) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  
  • Provide information to the Register on testing, treatment and contact tracing as requested.

Clinicians and health services are reminded that:

  • Treatment of syphilis is primarily with intramuscular (IM) benzathine penicillin 2.4 million units (1.8g), with regimen depending on clinical staging (see SA Health guideline).
  • Benzathine penicillin is now available on the PBS for use via the Prescriber Bag.
  • Increased screening for syphilis in pregnancy is recommended for women at high risk (see SA Perinatal Practice Guideline).
    • Testing recommended at initial visit, 28 weeks, 36 weeks, at birth and at 6 week postnatal check for
      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (or partners of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men) in an outbreak area.


Contact the SA Syphilis Register via the CDCB:

  • Telephone: 1300 232 272 during business hours  
  • Email: non-urgent enquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information, including links to above mentioned pages and fact sheets for health professionals and clients and families,
are  available at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/Syphilis
For all enquires please contact the CDCB on 1300 232 272 (24 hours/7 days)
Dr Louise Flood – Director, Communicable Disease Control Branch
Public – I4-A1

Download the official health alert here (PDF)
 

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