What is it?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with a syphilitic sore, known as a chancre. Chancres can occur on or around the external genitals, in the vagina, around the anus, or in the rectum, or in or around the mouth. In addition, pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the infection to their unborn child. Early syphilis can be cured. Without treatment, syphilis can severely damage your heart, brain or other organs, and can be life-threatening.

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Signs & symptoms

Primary syphilis- one small sore, called a chancre, usually painless. It heals on its own within three to six weeks.
Secondary syphilis- Rash that appears a few weeks after the chancre healed. begins on the trunk, later covers the entire body. May be accompanied by wartlike sores in the mouth or genital area. More symptoms- hair loss, muscle aches, fever, a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. These signs and symptoms may disappear within a few weeks or repeatedly come and go for as long as a year.
Latent syphilis- If syphilis left untreated it can progress to the latent stage that can last for years. Signs and symptoms may never return, or the disease may progress to the third stage.
Tertiary syphilis- can affect multiple organ systems, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. Symptoms vary depending on the organ system affected.
Neurosyphilis- invasion of syphilis to the nervous system at any stage of infection. Symptoms include headache, altered behavior, difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, sensory deficits, and dementia.
Congenital syphilis- Most babies with congenital syphilis have no symptoms. Some have a rash on their hands and feet. Later symptoms may include deafness, teeth deformities and saddle nose. However, babies born with syphilis can suffer from prematurity, intra uterine fetal death or die after birth.


Blood tests including:
-Nontreponemal tests (e.g., VDRL and RPR) not specific for syphilis, can produce false-positive results, and are insufficient for diagnosis.
- Treponemal tests (e.g., FTA-ABS, TP-PA, various EIAs, chemiluminescence immunoassays, immunoblots, and rapid treponemal assays) detect antibodies that are specific for syphilis which appear earlier than nontreponemal antibodies and usually remain detectable for life, even after successful treatment.


The first-line treatment for uncomplicated syphilis (primary or secondary stages) is a single dose of Penicillin IM, also for pregnant women. For neurosyphilis- Penicillin IV for 10 days at least.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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