Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection, caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum.
Primary syphilis symptoms include:
- Initial symptom is one or many painless, firm and round syphilitic sores called chancres
- Incubation period is approximately 3 weeks following exposure to the bacteria
- Chancres self-resolve within 3 to 6 weeks, but resolution treatment is required to prevent phase progression.
Secondary syphilis symptoms include:
- Truncal non-itchy rash, which spreads to the entire body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The rash may present as rough, red or red/brown in color
- Oral, anal and genital wart-like sores
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Patchy hair loss
- Weight loss
- Without treatment of secondary syphilis, the disease will progress to the latent stage when symptoms resolve
- This phase, which can last several years, will allow for the body to harbor the disease even without showing symptoms of syphilis
Even though there are no symptoms during this phase, the disease can at times advance to the late stage of syphilis referred to as tertiary syphilis or the symptoms may never come back.
Late syphilis (tertiary):
- Approximately 15-30% of untreated syphilis will develop into tertiary syphilis
- Tertiary syphilis occurs 10-30 years following onset of the infection
- Symptoms include muscle coordination difficulties, numbness, blindness, dementia, as well as damage to the heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints
- Death can at times occur due to organ damage.
- Infection is transferred in utero via the placenta and also during the birth process
- Most newborns are asymptomatic
- Symptoms include rash, deafness, teeth deformities, and nasal bone collapse referred to as saddle nose.
- Blood test:
- Bodily fluid:
- Cerebral spinal fluid