Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It is a highly contagious disease that spreads as a result of direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Syphilis was once regarded as a major public health threat because of its ability to inflict serious long-term health challenges such as arthritis. If left untreated the disease can cause serious health problems.
The development of Syphilis occurs in four stages namely; primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary stages. Each stage of the disease comes with its own distinct symptoms.
Stages of Syphilis
Primary Stage of Syphilis
The primary stage of syphilis starts with single or multiple sores at the location where the syphilis entered the body. This could be the genitals, rectum or anal openings.
The sores are usually firm, round and painless which most times make them go unnoticed. The wound heals after 3- 6 weeks regardless of whether treatment commences or not. If left untreated the disease spread to other parts of the body and progresses to the second stage known as the secondary stage of Syphilis.
Secondary Stage of Syphilis
This stage last for between 3 weeks to 9 months. It usually commences with a reddish or brownish rash on the palms, hands, feet, arms, or other areas of the body. These lead to swelling of the lymph glands and consequently accompanied by fever, sore throat, headaches, hair loss, weight loss, pain, and muscle aches.
If left untreated the disease progresses to the next stage.
Latent Stage Syphilis
The latent stage of the disease can last from few months to 50 years. At this stage the capacity to infect others is lost. Although pregnant mothers still retain some capacity to infect their unborn child with the disease.
Tertiary stage of Syphilis
This stage in common in 15 to 20 percent of syphilis conditions that go untreated. This final stage of the disease is characterized by paralysis, permanent ulcers, insanity and blindness.
Several factor increase the risk of contracting syphilis. You should be tested for syphilis if
- You sexually active
- You have been involved in homosexual or Lesbian relationships
- If You are pregnant (at first visit)
- If your partner has tested positive to syphilis
- If have tested positive to HIV or have sex with HIV positive individuals
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