Syphilis in South Australia

October 30, 2018

A baby was born with congenital syphilis in Port Augusta last year, the first child to be born with the serious and potentially fatal disease in South Australia in 18 years.

Conservative Party leader Senator Cory Bernardi says the news is further evidence of ongoing problems in our indigenous communities.

The ABC reports, the disease — once considered a medieval scourge that caused madness — has spread across Australia since 2011, with a "perfect storm" of sexually active and transient young people moving the disease across the nation.

While South Australian health authorities declared an outbreak of infectious syphilis in March last year, the national response to the outbreak is still yet to be rolled out in the state.

The Federal Government has committed $8.8 million to addressing the national outbreak, but Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt told the ABC more funding was likely to come.

The outbreak, which is believed to have started in an Aboriginal community in northern Queensland, has spread across four jurisdictions to include the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

Health Department figures show that to September 30, 1,184 cases had been diagnosed in affected areas in Queensland, 877 in the Northern Territory, 196 in Western Australia and 44 in South Australia.

There have been up to 15 congenital syphilis cases diagnosed in neonates or infants that are attributed to the outbreak.

Of these, up to seven babies have died.

Senator Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News whole generations of indigenous Australians are being destroyed because politicians aren't prepared to adequately deal with a vast array of health and welfare problems in these communities.

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