Syphilis clusters in Walsall: case profiles and public health implications

Commun Dis Public Health. 2004 Mar;7(1):36-8.


Between the beginning of December 2002 and the end of March 2003, eight cases of infectious syphilis were diagnosed in Walsall. Two unrelated clusters were identified. The first consisted of three cases, two heterosexual patients and a baby with congenital syphilis. The infant had no congenital stigmata of syphilis, which is consistent with recent infection. The second cluster consisted of five cases in men who have sex with men (MSM) who attended a local sauna that attracts men from the Midlands and north west England. One infection was detected in an outreach screening initiative of 60 MSM. Both clusters illustrate the problems of case ascertainment and the need for continued vigilance to the potential of syphilis infection in high risk groups. Vigorous public health efforts are required to promote safer sex and awareness to infection with syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus, reinforced by targeted case finding in clinic and community settings.

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Heterosexuality*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Health Practice
  • Risk Factors
  • Syphilis / drug therapy
  • Syphilis / epidemiology*