Syphilis is an infection caused by Treponema pallidum. The term is taken from a poem by an Italian poet and physician Giloramo Fracastoro Syphilis sive de morbo Gallico ‘Syphilis or The French Disease’. In the poem the main character, shepherd Siphilus gets a genital disease. Another name of the disease lues derives from Latin and means ‘contagion’.
Treponema pallidum is a spirochete and has a shape of thread 4 to 14 microns long. It dies outside the body if dried or heated up to 100C. Contrarily, it survives in cold.
It spreads in direct and indirect way. In direct way, the infection spreads from infected person to a disease-free person during sex, kiss or medication. In indirect way, the infection spreads through commonly used contaminated objects (cigarette ends, lip stick, toothbrush, glasses, spoons).
Mother can infect her baby. The baby can die or be delivered. The survived baby will have different birth defects.
Symptoms of Syphilis
- Primary syphilis begins after chancres occur where the infection entered the body. It is an oval or round painless sore.
- Lymphatic nodes near the sores enlarge.
- By the end of the Primary phase all lymphatic nodes are enlarged, general ill feeling occurs, weakness, headaches.
- Secondary phase is typified by rash on skin and mucous membranes. The rash may be different: purulent, vesicles, blisters, spots. The rash can go away and come back. First it is tiny. Then it becomes less in number but more in size and makes pictures on skin.
- Between Secondary period and Tertiary period is latent phase lasting from several months to several years.
- If untreated, in average in 3 to 4 years starts the Tertiary period. All tissues and organs get affected primarily skin, nerves, bones and mucous membranes. It may lead to death.
Diagnosis of Syphilis
- Serological reactions
- Spinal tap
Syphilis has the same symptoms as some other STIs. Only a medical professional can diagnose it.
Treatment for Syphilis
- Heavy metal salts
- Organic arsenic compounds
- External ointments
- Blood transfusion
- Vitamin injections
After treatment the patient are under observations during several years and have tests regularly. A person can be considered as completely recovered if he/she has had no symptoms for years.
Do not self medicate! Only a medical professional can appoint a right treating course.