Understanding STDs – Syphilis


Syphilis is a very contagious disease that is primarily spread through sexual activity, including oral and anal sex. Occasionally the disease can be passed from one person to another through prolonged kissing as well as a close body contact. Even though this disease is spread through sores, the vast majority fo these sores can go unrecognized. The infected person is often unaware of illness and unknowing passes it on to his or her sexual partner.

Pregnant women with this disease can spread it to their unborn children. This disease is called congenital syphilis, can trigger abnormalities or even death to the child.

Syphilis can not be spread by door knobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, eating utensils, shared clothing or toilet seats

What is the Syphilis bacteria Treponema pallidum

How Common is Syphilis

Syphilis was once a significant public heath threat, most commonly causing serious long-term heath problems such as arthritis, blindness or brain damage. It defined effective treatment until the late 1940s when the antibiotic penicillin was first developed.

According to the CDC, the rate of new cases of syphilis had plummeted in the 1990s, and in the year 2000, it reached all time low since reporting began in 1941. However, new cases of syphilis double between 2005 and 2014 from 8,724 to 16,663


How do I know if I have Syphilis?
Syphilis infection occurs in three distinct stages.

Early or primary syphilis – People with primary syphilis will develop one or more sores. The series are usually small and painless ulcers. They occur on the genitals or in or around the mouth somewhere between 10-90 days (average three weeks) after exposure. Even without treatment they heal without a scar within six weeks.

The secondary stage may last one to three months an begin within six weeks to six months after exposure. People with secondary syphilis experience a rosy “copper penny” rash typically on the palms of the adds and soles of the feet. However, rashes with a different appearance may occur on other parts of the body, sometimes looking similar to a rash, caused by other diseases. They may also experience moist warts in the groin, white patches on the inside of the mouth, fever, swollen lymph glands, and weigh loss. Like primary syphilis, secondary syphilis will resolve without treatment.

Latent syphilis. This is where the infection lies dormant (inactive ) without causing symptoms.
Tertiary syphilis. If the infection in is treated, t may then progress to a stage characterized by severe problems with the heart, nerves, brain, that can result in paralysis blindness, deafness, dementia, impotence, and even death if it’s not treated.


How is Syphilis is Diagnosed?

Syphilis can be easily diagnosed with a quick and inexpensive blood test given at your doctor’s office or a public heath clinic.

How is Syphilis Treated

If you’ve been infected with syphilis for less than a year, a single dosage of penicillin is normally enough to destroy the infection. For hose people that are allergic to penicillin, tetracycline doxycycline or another antibiotic can be given instead. If you’re in a later stage disease, more dosages will be needed.

People who are being treated for syphilis must abstain from sexual contract until the infection is completely gone. Sexual partners of people with syphilis should be tested and if necessary treated.


What if Syphilis is not Treated?

If syphilis is left untreated, it can cause serious and permanent problems such as dementia, blindness, or death.

How does Syphilis Affect A Pregnant Woman and Her Baby?

Depending on how long a pregnant woman has been infected with syphilis, she has a good chance of having a stillbirth (birth of an infant who died before delivery) or fo giving birth to a baby who dies shortly after birth.

If the disease is not treated immediately, an infected baby may be born without symptoms but could develop them within a few weeks. These signs and symptoms can be severe. Untreated babies may become developmentally delayed, have seizures or die.


How Can I prevent a Syphilis Infection?

To reduce your risk of syphilis infection:
Avoid intimate contact with a person you know is infected.

If you do not know if a sexual partner is infected, use a condom in every sexual encounter.

What is the Outlook for People with Syphilis
Syphilis is a curable disease with prompt diagnosis and treatment. However, if treated too late there maybe long term damage to the brain and heart even after the infection is destroyed.