Event Details

PHO Microbiology Rounds: Syphilis: Controlling an Old Disease with Modern Technologies

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection and if left untreated, it can progress to cause serious complications involving the heart, central nervous system and other internal organs. The disease has been nationally notifiable since 1924; however, a recent increase in infection rates has generated renewed interest in this old disease. In this presentation, the laboratory diagnosis of syphilis will be reviewed and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Five Year Action Plan in response to the Pan Canadian framework on Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBI) will be discussed, with emphasis on recent activities at the National Microbiology Laboratory Branch (NMLB). Newer diagnostic methods and challenges moving ahead will also be discussed.

Intended audience: Public Health professionals working in communicable diseases, STBBI and/or sexual health; public health physicians; public health nurses and nurse practitioners; primary care physicians; community health professionals; clinical microbiologists; epidemiologists; and laboratory staff.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Explain laboratory diagnostic methods for syphilis
  • Describe PHAC’s Five-Year Action plan on STBBI with emphasis on syphilis and NMLB’s response to the current increase in infection rates.
  • Recognize newer diagnostic methods and appreciate the challenges in syphilis diagnosis

Presenter(s): Dr. Raymond Tsang

Dr. Tsang, PhD, is the Laboratory Chief for Syphilis Diagnostic and Vaccine Preventable Bacterial Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory Branch. He has extensive experience in clinical microbiology, especially bacterial diseases, immune response to bacterial infection, laboratory diagnostic methods, and genomic epidemiology. His work on vaccine preventable bacterial diseases supports Canada’s Immunization Program ACTive (IMPACT) and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on meningococcal disease, Haemophilus influenzae, and pertussis. He is currently a member of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Syphilis Outbreak Investigation Coordinating Committee and Co-chair of the Syphilis Working Group for the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network. He works with international partners, including the US CDC, UK Health Security Agency, France’s Pasteur Institute, and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on syphilis and vaccine preventable bacterial diseases issues. He currently serves as an Editor for The Canadian Journal of Microbiology.


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Public Health Ontario Rounds are a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). In order to receive written documentation for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, please check “Yes” beside the question “Do you require CME credits?” on the registration form.

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Affiliate Members may count RCPSC credits toward their Mainpro+ credit requirements. All other CFPC members may claim up to 50 Certified credits per cycle for participation in RCPSC MOC Section 1 accredited activities.

PHO Rounds are also approved by the Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI).

For more information or for a record of registration for other Continuing Education purposes, please contact capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.


Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.

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Capacity Building


Updated 18 Oct 2023