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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases Arrow to Sexually Transmitted Disease STDs Arrow to Syphilis Syphilis

Treponema pallidum, the cause of syphilis
This electron micrograph reveals the
corkscrew appearance of
pallidum, the cause of syphilis.

Syphilis (pronounced "siff-uh-liss") is a serious infection passed from one person to another during genital, oral or anal sex.

It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child, sometimes causing birth defects. Though rare, syphilis can also be contracted through injection drug use, or by health care workers through an open cut or sore.

Syphilis had been on the decline in past decades, but increased numbers of outbreaks have recently been reported worldwide.

Now with increased efforts at better patient education it is hoped that the trend reverses once again.

Syphilis symptoms and treatment

A simple blood test is all that is need to diagnose syphilis, which is easily treated with penicillin or other antibiotics. When left untreated, syphilis symptoms gradual worsen through five stages: primary, secondary, early latent, late latent and tertiary.

The three early stages can last for several months, when syphilis is at its most infectious. The later stages are when the disease is full-blown, and can do the most damage, as it moves through the entire system affecting the brain, heart and circulatory system.

photos of syphilis symptoms - rash and lesions
As the disease progresses, secondary syphilis
symptoms can present as unexplained rash or red
lesions on the hands, feet or other parts of the body.

source: CDC - Syphilis

Known throughout history as "the great imitator", syphilis is still notoriously difficult to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms similar to other conditions.

Typical signs in the early stages may include a painless open sore usually occurring in the genital area.

It may go away without treatment, although the infection remains and progresses to secondary syphilis which may be marked by swollen glands, fever, muscle and joint pain, unexplained rash, red lesions, or hair loss.

Since secondary symptoms can also clear up on their own, if you engage in unprotected sex it is of the utmost importance to see a doctor and get a proper diagnose before even more serious symptoms occur.

On the Web, find out more about syphilis signs and symptoms, details on the various disease stages, who is most at risk, and how best to protect yourself against the ages-old disease reported cases of which are once more on the rise ....


More about syphilis around the Web:


Syphilis - Wikipedia entry with a history of the disease as well as current treatments & testing, descriptions of various disease stages, references in art, literature and pop culture, related links & references.

eMedicine - Syphilis - Article written by Todd McGregor, MD with facts, statistics and professional guidelines for treating & testing for the disease, a chart illustrating antibiotics used in treatment with dosing and related contraindications, plus links to patient education information.

Symptoms of Syphilis - Overview with comprehensive information on a host of symptoms that accompany the disease along with facts on other diseases with similar symptoms, and symptoms caused by syphilis complications, with more on associated conditions and risk factors.

Kids - Syphilis - Kid-friendly explanation of what it is, how it's transmitted, and more on stages and treatment, related articles, additional resources.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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