On August 22, 2019, the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) declared a syphilis outbreak for the Northwest Territories.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that is on the rise in Canada and the NWT has seen a dramatic increase in rates since January 1, 2019. 

One of the NWT cases included a newborn that was diagnosed with congenital syphilis.  This is the first case of congenital syphilis in NWT since 2009 and occurs when a mother passes the syphilis infection on to her baby during pregnancy. It can cause very serious health issues including stillbirth, neonatal death, or severe chronic health conditions.

Syphilis is spread through oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected person and increases the risk of contracting or spreading HIV.  Left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems.

Antibiotic treatment can cure syphilis. Treatment in the earlier stages is far easier than living with the results of a long-standing syphilis infection.

In Yellowknife, call or text 867-446-5113 for confidential advice or to book an appointment.

For all other communities, please contact your local health centre.

For more information on syphilis in the NWT, please see:

For additional resources on syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, visit: