Notification and management of congenital syphilis in the Northern Territory 2009 to 2014

Charlie McLeod, Jiunn Yih Su, Joshua R. Francis, Alice Ishwar, Nathan Ryder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To determine whether cases of congenital syphilis in the Northern Territory between 2009 and 2014 were correctly notified based on probable or confirmed case criteria stipulated by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA). 

    Methods: Pregnant women with positive syphilis serology defined as reactive treponemal test and rapid plasma reagin titre ≥1:8 were identified from the Northern Territory Syphilis Register Information System. Risk classification was performed based on local guidelines, and CDNA criteria for probable/confirmed cases of congenital syphilis were applied to determine whether cases were appropriately notified. 

    Results: Thirty-four cases of positive maternal syphilis serology in pregnancy were identified from 31 women; all were Indigenous. Twenty-one cases fulfilled criteria for probable congenital syphilis; 1 case was formally notified to the Centre for Disease Control. Twenty cases (95%) fulfilling CDNA criteria for probable congenital syphilis were not notified over the study period. 

    Conclusions: Application of standard case definitions significantly increases the rate of congenital syphilis cases in the Northern Territory. Improved education regarding CDNA criteria for notification of congenital syphilis is necessary for clinicians and public health staff. Emerging evidence has supported the recent simplification of CDNA criteria for notification of congenital syphilis, effective 1 July 2015. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E323-E328
    Number of pages6
    JournalCommunicable Diseases Intelligence Quarterly Report
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


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