What causes syphilis infection?
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.
How did syphilis spread to humans?
The first well-recorded European outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in 1495 among French troops besieging Naples, Italy. It may have been transmitted to the French via Spanish mercenaries serving King Charles of France in that siege. From this centre, the disease swept across Europe.
What happens to syphilis if you don’t have symptoms?
If you aren’t treated for syphilis, the disease moves from the secondary to the latent (hidden) stage, when you have no symptoms. The latent stage can last for years. Signs and symptoms may never return, or the disease may progress to the tertiary (third) stage.
How long does it take for syphilis to become infectious?
As symptom relapse indicates bacterial replication, early latent disease can be infectious. Late latent syphilis occurs >1-2 years after acquisition and is non-infectious (see fig 1 ). Tertiary syphilis— Without treatment, 14-40% of people with syphilis progress to tertiary disease—irreversible damage to any organ—within 1-46 years.
How is syphilis transmitted from person to person?
Syphilis is spread during unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex or through skin-to-skin contact. Syphilis is highly contagious in the first two years after infection, particularly during the primary and secondary stages but also in the early part of the latent stage. Syphilis can be transmitted during pregnancy from a mother to her unborn baby.
What is the public health significance of syphilis?
Public health significance and occurrence of syphilis. This is a complex disease. Sequelae include neurosyphilis, cardiovascular syphilis, and congenital infection with fetal death, stillbirth and abortion. Testing and effective treatment are available to facilitate the interruption of disease transmission.
Is syphilis always fatal if untreated?
If left untreated or inadequately treated, syphilis can lead to dangerous consequences and even cause death . If untreated, then syphilis can either manifest itself in the form of severe complications or the symptoms may also be imperceptible. These spirochete bacteria can spread throughout the body, and also affect certain vital organs of the body.
How long does syphilis last after treatment?
With treatment, secondary syphilis will most likely go away within a few weeks to a year. If secondary syphilis goes untreated and your symptoms go away, you will still have the latent form of syphilis. The latent stage is a symptom-free period that can last for many years. You may never again develop symptoms.
What are the early signs of syphilis?
Signs and symptoms of early syphilis include sores or rash in the mouth, vagina, or anus. The sores are firm, rounded, and do not cause pain. Itching is usually not present. Associated symptoms of the second stage of syphilis include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, weight loss, and headache.
What are the side effects of untreated syphilis?
Effects of untreated syphilis. In the latent or late stages, the effects of syphilis infection can be severe. If left untreated, syphilis can result in damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.