Syphilis (Treponema Pallidum)

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It progresses through several stages if left untreated, including primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary syphilis, and can affect various organ systems over time. Syphilis is primarily spread through sexual contact, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex. It can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, leading to congenital syphilis.

Syphilis (Treponema Pallidum)

What are the symptoms of syphilis?

  • Primary stage: A single sore or multiple sores at the infection site (usually firm, round, and painless)
  • Secondary stage: Skin rash (often on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet), mucous membrane lesions, fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches
  • Latent stage: No symptoms (can last for years)
  • Tertiary stage: Damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints

How soon after exposure should I get tested for syphilis?

It is recommended to get tested for syphilis if you believe you have been exposed, especially if you notice symptoms like a chancre (sore) or a rash. The chancre typically appears about 3 weeks after exposure, but testing before this sore appears may not yield accurate results. If the first test is negative and you suspect exposure, follow-up testing is advised as antibodies to the bacterium may take time to develop.

What is the treatment for syphilis?

The primary treatment for syphilis is penicillin, an effective antibiotic, usually given as an injection. For those allergic to penicillin, alternative antibiotics are available. The length and type of treatment depend on the stage and symptoms of the infection. It’s important to abstain from sexual contact until the syphilis sores are completely healed to prevent spreading the infection.

How can I protect myself from syphilis?

To prevent syphilis, practice safe sex by using condoms correctly and consistently during all sexual activities. Regular STI screenings are important, particularly if you have multiple sexual partners or engage in unprotected sex. Avoiding sexual contact with individuals who have visible sores or rashes that could be symptomatic of syphilis is also crucial. If sexually active, regular communication with partners about STI status and testing is beneficial.

Test(s) that measure/test for Syphilis (Treponema Pallidum)

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