What is syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that’s caused by the bacterium treponema pallidum. It is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore, called a chancre. These sores can appear anywhere on the body at the point of contact but mostly show up on external genitals, the vagina, the penis, or the anus. They can be found also on the lips or in the mouth. The signs and symptoms of syphilis differ according to which of the four stages of the disease is present — primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary (late stage).

How does one get syphilis?
Syphilis can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

What can be the consequences of syphilis?

  • Primary stage symptoms include the presence of a small, painless sore (chancre) and enlarged groin lymph nodes. These symptoms disappear within 6 weeks without treatment, but the disease remains and progresses to the next stage.
  • Secondary stage symptoms include a rash, fever, fatigue, aching bones and joints. These symptoms will also disappear in time.
  • The next stage of syphilis, the latent stage, begins when all of your previous symptoms have disappeared. Obviously, this is a very deceptive stage, because, while you show no symptoms, you still have syphilis. If left untreated, you may not develop tertiary, or late stage, syphilis – most of those afflicted don’t. But far worse symptoms can show up, even as late as 10, 20, or 30 years after initial infection, and those symptoms are devastating indeed.
  • Tertiary, or late, stage symptoms typically include stroke, meningitis, poor coordination, paralysis, deafness, blindness, dementia, and aneurysm. Damage to internal organs can be serious enough to cause death.

Can syphilis be treated and, if so, how?
Early diagnosis and treatment with penicillin can kill the organism that causes syphilis and stop the progression of the disease. The treatment, however, can not repair any damage already done by the infection. If you suspect you may have had a chancre sore, GET TESTED for syphilis before serious damage occurs.

For more information about syphilis visit: CDC   Mayo Clinic

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