Syphilis is an infectious venereal disease caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease and one can acquire it by direct contact with syphilis sore from the vagina, mouth or anus.

Infection to your unborn baby. Having syphilis can lead to a low birth weight baby. It can also make it more likely you will deliver your baby too early or stillborn (a baby born dead). To protect your baby, you should be tested for syphilis during your pregnancy and at delivery and receive immediate treatment if you test positive.

An infected baby may be born without signs or symptoms of disease. However, if not treated immediately, the baby may develop serious problems within a few weeks. Untreated babies can have health problems such as cataracts, deafness, or seizures, and can die.


Primary syphilis

Primary syphilis occurs within 3 weeks of contact with an infected individual. It manifests mainly on the glans penis in males and on the vulva or cervix in females. Ten percent of syphilitic lesions are found on the anus, fingers, oropharynx, tongue, nipples, fingers, or other extragenital sites. Regional nontender lymphadenopathy follows Invasion.

Secondary syphilis

Secondary syphilis manifests in various ways. It usually presents with a cutaneous eruption within 2-10 weeks after the primary stage and is most florid 3-4 months after infection. The eruption may be subtle; 25% of people may be unaware of skin changes. A localized or diffuse mucocutaneous rash (generally nonpruritic and bilaterally symmetrical) with generalized nontender lymphadenopathy is typical.

Mild constitutional symptoms of malaise, headache, anorexia, nausea, aching pains in the bones, and fatigue often are present, as well as fever and neck stiffness. A small number of people develop acute syphilitic meningitis and present with headache, neck stiffness, facial numbness or weakness, and deafness.

Latent syphilis

Latency may last from a few years to as many as 25 years before the destructive lesions of tertiary syphilis manifest. Affected people may recall symptoms of primary and secondary syphilis. They are asymptomatic during the latent phase, and the disease is detected only by serologic tests. latency syphilis is not infectious; however, women in this stage can spread the disease in utero.

Tertiary syphilis

Tertiary (late) syphilis is slowly progressive and may affect any organ. The disease is generally not thought to be infectious at this stage. Manifestations may include the following:
1. Altered mental status
2. Focal neurologic findings, including sensorineural hearing and vision loss
Symptoms related to the cardiovascular system or the central nervous system (CNS)
The lesions of benign tertiary syphilis usually develop within 3-10 years of infection. The typical lesion is a gumma, and people complaints usually are secondary to bone pain, which is described as a deep boring pain characteristically worse at night. Trauma may predispose a specific site to gumma involvement.
CNS involvement may occur, with presenting symptoms representative of the area affected (ie, brain involvement [headache, dizziness, mood disturbance, neck stiffness, blurred vision] and spinal cord involvement [bulbar symptoms, weakness and wasting of shoulder girdle and arm muscles, incontinence, impotence)
Some people may present up to 20 years after infection with behavioral changes and other signs of dementia, which is indicative of neurosyphilis.

1. People who abuse IV drugs should be advised to avoid sharing needles and to use clean needles.
2. It is also important to stress to people the importance of compliance with their entire antibiotic course and follow-up visits.
3. As with all STDs, education must stress the importance of safer sexual practices and the need for prompt medical evaluation of chancres and other symptoms of STDs. All patients diagnosed with an STD should be screened for HIV infection.
4. People with syphilis should be counseled to notify their partners of infection and to inform them of the need to be treated.
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