Other names that people use for syphilis include:
*The great imitator
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infective diseas caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis. Other human diseases caused by related Treponema pallidum include yaws (subspecies pertenue), pinta (subspecies carateum), and bejel (subspecies endemicum)……….click & see the pictures
The signs and symptoms of syphilis vary depending in which of the four stages :primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary.
Primary stage of Syphilis:
The primary stage of syphilis typically begins with a sore (called a “chancre”) on the skin that’s initially exposed to the infection — usually the genitals, rectum or mouth. The sore has been described as feeling like a button: firm, round, usually measuring half an inch across, and not tender to the touch. Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin may occur, but the nodes are not usually tender.
Infected individuals do not usually feel ill in the primary stage of syphilis, and the chancre heals spontaneously after 4 to 6 weeks. This is a problem because the syphilis has not gone away: syphilis continues to spread throughout the body.
Secondary stage of syphilis:
From the primary stage, the disease moves into the secondary stage of syphilis. Secondary syphilis can often occur several weeks after the chancre heals, once the bacteria have spread through the body. An individual may feel sick; common symptoms include headache, achiness, loss of appetite and maybe rash.
The rash in secondary syphilis is usually reddish-brown in color, not itchy and widespread. But the appearance of the rash’s individual lesions can vary dramatically: they may be flat or raised, they may or may not be scaly, and pustules may or may not be present. It’s partially due to the variability of this rash that led to syphilis being called “the great imitator,” because it can resemble many other conditions. The rash can last for a few weeks or months.
Other symptoms of secondary syphilis include sores in the mouth, nose, throat, and on the genitals or folds of the skin. Lymph node swelling is common, and patchy hair loss can occur. All signs and symptoms of the second stage of syphilis will disappear without treatment in 3 weeks to 9 months, but the infection will still be present in the body.
Latent stage of Syphilis:
The latent stage of syphilis, which occurs after the symptoms of secondary syphilis have disappeared, can last from a few years to up to 50 years! There are no symptoms in this stage, and after about two years, an infected man may cease to be contagious. However, a man in the latent stage of syphilis is still infected, and the disease can be diagnosed by a blood test. During the latent stage, a pregnant woman can transmit syphilis to her fetus.
Tertiary stage of Syphillis:
The final stage of syphilis, which occurs in about one third of those who are not treated, is known as the tertiary stage. Many organs may be affected. Common symptoms include fever; painful, non-healing skin ulcers; bone pain; liver disease; and anemia. Tertiary syphilis can also affect the nervous system (resulting in the loss of mental functioning) and the aorta (resulting in heart disease)…….click & see : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Tertiary_syphilis_head.JPG
Congenital syphilis is that which is transmitted during pregnancy or during birth. Two-thirds of syphilitic infants are born without symptoms. Common symptoms that develop over the first couple years of life include: hepatosplenomegaly (70%), rash (70%), fever (40%), neurosyphilis (20%), and pneumonitis (20%). If untreated, late congenital syphilis may occur in 40%, including: saddle nose deformation, Higoumenakis sign, saber shin, or Clutton’s joints among others.
The cause of syphilis is a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. The most common route of transmission is through contact with an infected person’s sore during sexual activity. The bacteria enter your body through minor cuts or abrasions in your skin or mucous membranes. Syphilis is contagious during its primary and secondary stages, and sometimes in the early latent period.
Syphilis is transmitted primarily by sexual contact or during pregnancy from a mother to her fetus; the spirochaete is able to pass through intact mucous membranes or compromised skin. It is thus transmissible by kissing near a lesion, as well as oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Approximately 30 to 60% of those exposed to primary or secondary syphilis will get the disease. Its infectivity is exemplified by the fact that an individual inoculated with only 57 organisms has a 50% chance of being infected. Most (60%) of new cases in the United States occur in men who have sex with men. It can be transmitted via blood products. However, it is tested for in many countries and thus the risk is low. The risk of transmission from sharing needles appears limited. Syphilis cannot be contracted through toilet seats, daily activities, hot tubs, or sharing eating utensils or clothing.Once cured, syphilis doesn’t recur. However, you can become reinfected if you have contact with someone’s syphilis sore.
One may face an increased risk of acquiring syphilis if he or she:
*Engage in unprotected sex
*Have sex with multiple partners
*Are a man who has sex with men
*Are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
Without treatment, syphilis can lead to damage throughout your body. Syphilis also increases the risk of HIV infection and, for women, can cause problems during pregnancy. Treatment can help prevent future damage but can’t repair or reverse damage that’s already occurred.
Small bumps or tumors:
Called gummas, these bumps can develop on your skin, bones, liver or any other organ in the late stage of syphilis. Gummas usually disappear after treatment with antibiotics.
Syphilis can cause a number of problems with your nervous system, including:
These may include bulging (aneurysm) and inflammation of the aorta — body’s major artery — and of other blood vessels. Syphilis may also damage heart valves.
Adults with sexually transmitted syphilis or other genital ulcers have an estimated two- to fivefold increased risk of contracting HIV. A syphilis sore can bleed easily, providing an easy way for HIV to enter your bloodstream during sexual activity.
Pregnancy and childbirth complications:
Pregnent woman may pass syphilis to her unborn baby. Congenital syphilis greatly increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or her newborn’s death within a few days after birth.
Syphilis can be diagnosed by testing samples of:
*Blood. Blood tests can confirm the presence of antibodies that the body produces to fight infection. The antibodies to the bacteria that cause syphilis remain in your body for years, so the test can be used to determine a current or past infection.
*Fluid from sores. Your doctor may scrape a small sample of cells from a sore to be analyzed by microscope in a lab. This test can be done only during primary or secondary syphilis, when sores are present. The scraping can reveal the presence of bacteria that cause syphilis.
*Cerebral spinal fluid. If it’s suspected that you have nervous system complications of syphilis, your doctor may also suggest collecting a sample of cerebrospinal fluid through a procedure called a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
The first-choice treatment for uncomplicated syphilis remains a single dose of intramuscular benzathine penicillin G or a single dose of oral azithromycin. Doxycycline and tetracycline are alternative choices; however, due to the risk of birth defects these are not recommended for pregnant women. Antibiotic resistance has developed to a number of agents, including macrolides, clindamycin, and rifampin. Ceftriaxone, a third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic, may be as effective as penicillin-based treatment.
For neurosyphilis, due to the poor penetration of penicillin G into the central nervous system, those affected are recommended to be given large doses of intravenous penicillin for a minimum of 10 days. If a person is allergic, ceftriaxone may be used or penicillin desensitization attempted. Other late presentations may be treated with once-weekly intramuscular penicillin G for three weeks. If allergic, as in the case of early disease, doxycycline or tetracycline may be used, albeit for a longer duration. Treatment at this stage limits further progression, but has only slight effect on damage which has already occurred.
One of the potential side effects of treatment is the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. It frequently starts within one hour and lasts for 24 hours, with symptoms of fever, muscles pains, headache, and tachycardia. It is caused by cytokines released by the immune system in response to lipoproteins released from rupturing syphilis bacteria
As of 2010, there is no vaccine effective for prevention.Abstinence from intimate physical contact with an infected person is effective at reducing the transmission of syphilis, as is the proper use of a latex condom. Condom use, however, does not completely eliminate the risk. Thus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner and the avoidance of substances such as alcohol and other drugs that increase risky sexual behavior.
Congenital syphilis in the newborn can be prevented by screening mothers during early pregnancy and treating those who are infected. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) strongly recommends universal screening of all pregnant women, while the World Health Organization recommends all women be tested at their first antenatal visit and again in the third trimester. If they are positive, they recommend their partners also be treated. Congenital syphilis is, however, still common in the developing world, as many women do not receive antenatal care at all, and the antenatal care others do receive does not include screening, and it still occasionally occurs in the developed world, as those most likely to acquire syphilis (through drug use, etc.) are least likely to receive care during pregnancy. A number of measures to increase access to testing appear effective at reducing rates of congenital syphilis in low- to middle-income countries.
Syphilis is a notifiable disease in many countries, including Canada the European Union, and the United States. This means health care providers are required to notify public health authorities, which will then ideally provide partner notification to the person’s partners. Physicians may also encourage patients to send their partners to seek care. The CDC recommends sexually active men who have sex with men are tested at least yearly.
There is no vaccine available for people; however, a vaccine has been developed that is effective in an animal model and research is ongoing.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.