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    Peterman, Thomas A. and Furness, Bruce W. 2015. Public health interventions to control syphilis. Sexual Health, Vol. 12, Issue. 2, p. 126.

    Hofer, Alexandra Parker, Jake Atkinson, David Moore, Sarah Reeve, Carole and Mak, Donna B. 2014. Prevocational exposure to public health in the Kimberley: A pathway to rural, remote and public health practice. Australian Journal of Rural Health, Vol. 22, Issue. 2, p. 75.

    Kwan, Kellie S. H. Giele, Carolien M. Greville, Heath S. Reeve, Carole A. Lyttle, P. Heather and Mak, Donna B. 2012. Syphilis epidemiology and public health interventions in Western Australia from 1991 to 2009. Sexual Health, Vol. 9, Issue. 3, p. 272.

    Edwards, Karen E Gibson, Nancy Martin, Jim Mitchell, Steven and Andersson, Neil 2011. Impact of community-based interventions on condom use in the Tłįchǫ region of Northwest Territories, Canada. BMC Health Services Research, Vol. 11, Issue. Suppl 2, p. S9.

    Jones, Ian S. C. and Jones, Alister I. 2010. We keep forgetting maternal and congenital syphilis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Vol. 50, Issue. 3, p. 306.

    Burillo, A. Fernández-Pérez, C. Rivera, M. Alonso, R. Catalán, P. and Bouza, E. 2008. Decline in the workload associated with the serodiagnosis of syphilis in a general hospital: 1994–2004. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Vol. 27, Issue. 11, p. 1037.

    Hogben, M. 2007. Partner Notification for Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 44, Issue. Supplement 3, p. S160.

    Mak, Donna B. and Plant, Aileen J. 2005. Reducing unmet needs: A prevocational medical training program in public health medicine and primary health care in remote Australia. Australian Journal of Rural Health, Vol. 13, Issue. 3, p. 183.


A syphilis outbreak in remote Australia: epidemiology and strategies for control

  • D. B. MAK (a1) (a2) (a3), G. H. JOHNSON (a1) and A. J. PLANT (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2004

This paper describes the epidemiology of a syphilis outbreak in remote Australia, and explores contributing factors and control strategies. Between 1 August 2000 and 31 January 2002, 74 cases of early syphilis (42 female, 32 male) were identified in 73 Kimberley residents. Syphilis rates in age groups 10–19 and 20–29 years were 583 and 439 per 100000 person years respectively. Factors contributing to the outbreak included incompleteness of sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinical management, untimely contact tracing, staffing and management issues, and poor community knowledge about STIs. Outbreak control strategies addressed factors that could be influenced by changes in health service delivery, and focused on providing education and support to health staff, and efforts to increase community knowledge about sexual health. Although some improvements have occurred, the outbreak is still continuing. Until open and honest discussion and a collaborative approach is taken toward STI problems affecting Indigenous Australians, outbreaks such as this will continue to occur.

Corresponding author
Dr D. Mak, 29 Cooper St, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. (Email:
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The views expressed are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the institutions which they were employed by, or affiliated with, during the writing of this paper.
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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