What is Syphilis
What is Syphilis?
• Syphilis is a complex sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium. Treponema Pallidum.
• The bacterium is passed from person to person through direct contact with syphilis sore(s).
• Syphilis causes sores mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum.
• Untreated syphilis
What are the signs and symptoms of Syphilis?
• The primary stage of syphilis is marked by the appearance of a single sore (called a chancre).
• The chancre is usually a firm, round, small, and painless lesion.
• It appears at the spot where the bacterium entered the body.
• The chancre lasts 1 to 5 weeks and will heal on its own.
• If inadequate or no treatment is administered, the infection progresses to the secondary stage.
• As the chancre disappears, a rash develops.
• The rash often appears as rough “copper penny” spots on both hand and feet.
• The rash may also appear as prickly heat rash, as small blotches or scales all over the body, as moist warts in the groin area or as pus-filled bumps like chicken pox.
• Other symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscles aches and fatigue.
• Late stage symptoms include poor muscle movements, paralysis, gradual blindness, dementia (mental illness).
How is it spread?
Syphilis is usually caught during vaginal, anal or oral sex through skin-to-skin contact. Syphilis is highly contagious during the primary and secondary stages when the sore or rash is present. More rarely, syphilis can be transmitted during pregnancy from a mother to her unborn baby.
Who is at risk?
Syphilis is rare in Australia but increasing some communities. These include:
• Men who have sex with men
• People with HIV/AIDS
• Aboriginal communities that are remote or have poor access to health care services
How is it prevented?
Using a condom for vaginal or anal sex can significantly reduce the risk of catching syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.
Do not have sex with anyone who has been diagnosed with syphilis or who has symptoms until they have been treated by there doctor, even with a condom.
Avoid sharing sex toys and consider using condoms with sex toys for further protection.
Have regular sexual health checks to identify infections early to prevent passing the infection on to others and before complications develop.
How do you get tested Syphilis?
• A health care provider can detect the syphilis bacterium from infectious sores
under a microscope.
• The body produces antibodies that can be detected with a blood test.
• One dose of penicillin will cure a person who has had syphilis for less than one year. More doses are needed to cure someone who has had it for longer than a year.
• A baby born with the disease needs daily penicillin treatment for 10 days.
• There are no home remedies or over-the counter- drugs that cure syphilis.
• Penicillin will kill the syphilis bacterium and prevent further damage but it will not repair any damage already done.
REMINDER: Using a condom consistently can help to protect you from STD’s,including syphilis.