NWT’s syphilis outbreak still growing ‘at an alarming rate’

Every sexually active NWT resident should book a syphilis test, the territory’s chief public health officer said as an outbreak showed no sign of slowing.

Syphilis has been a concern in the territory for years. On Wednesday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola said the outbreak was still “growing at an alarming rate.”

Dr Kandola said that rate was “consistently and significantly higher than the national average.”


The NWT had earlier reported a 253-percent rise in cases from the beginning of 2019 to April 2022.

Syphilis is spread through unprotected sex and not everyone infected will display symptoms. Neurological and other conditions can occur if the disease is left untreated.

“The only way to know definitively whether you have syphilis is to get tested,” the territorial government stated on Wednesday.

Earlier this summer, the GNWT said rapid tests for syphilis were on the way. Whether those are yet available was not clear – no mention of them was made in a Wednesday news release, nor on the territorial government’s webpage about the disease. The Department of Health and Social Services has been approached for clarification.

The territory said residents should call their local public health clinic or health centre to book an appointment.