Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacteria called as traonema palladium. Syphilis is generally of two types, venereal syphilis is spread through sexual contact and congenital syphilis is spread from the mother to the unborn child.
Syphilis has become rare especially with the advent of antibiotics that can successfully treat it. Nevertheless, around ten million cases of syphilis are reported every year.
Syphilis has a very long incubation period. The disease only comes into play and starts showing typical signs and symptoms after 21 – 90 days. The disease manifests itself in four stages namely, primary, secondary, latent and tertiary.
The Top Symptoms Of Syphilis
Primary Stage of Syphilis
In this stage, small ulcers appear in the region from where the bacteria entered the body. The ulcers are also called as chancres. The common areas are the penis, vulva and the opening of the anus.
The sore appears firm, round like a button and measures about half an inch across. It is painless and not tender. The patients generally do not feel ill and the ulcers heal on their own within 4-6 weeks. This of course is very misleading as the syphilis is now slowly spreading to the rest of the body.
In this stage, the infection starts to spread to the rest of the body. This normally occurs within 4-6 weeks after the ulcers have healed. The individual starts to feel ill. He/she may complain of headaches, pain, lethargy, a loss of appetite and a characteristic body rash.
The body rash is reddish-brown in colour and may or may not be itchy. The rash takes the form of small pustules, scales or blisters, which makes it difficult for the doctor to come up with a differential diagnosis. The rash remains for up to 9 months in severe cases and subsides on its own.
Secondary syphilis is also characterised by sores in the mouth, nose and the tongue, folds of the skin and even the genitals. Some patients also experience lymph node swelling and loss of hair.
This is a stage where there are no outward symptoms. However, the person may harbour the bacteria in his body for at least 50 years. A routine blood test can detect the presence of the bacteria.
The infected person may after some time cease to be contagious. In case of women, the bacteria can spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn child.
This is the last stage of syphilis. This is a rare stage and generally occurs when patients suffering from the disease remain untreated. The bacteria then affect and damage the major organs.
The person may start to experience fever, anaemia, liver damage, painful repeated ulcers, bone pain and neurological conditions. This is because the bacteria also tend to affect the central nervous system.
Syphilis has a good prognosis especially after penicillin was first introduced. If detected in the earlier stage, it can be treated with a course of strong antibiotics.
The penicillin has to be administered either intravenously or though the muscles in the form of an injection. Oral antibiotics are not seen to be that effective.