What is Syphillis?
Syphillis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the organism, Treponema pallidum. Syphillis is spread by direct contact with infectious lesions such as ulcers.
There are four stages of syphillis: primary, secondary, latent and tertiary.
Primary syphillis occurs 2-6 weeks after infection. It is characterized by a single or multiple painless ulcers (chancre) at the site of infection. There may be enlarged lymph nodes that feel rubbery and are painless.
Secondary syphillis occurs 2-6 months after primary syphillis. It is characterized by different signs and symptoms e.g. non itchy rashes on both sides, mucous membrane lesions, loss of hair and enlarged lymph nodes.
Latent syphillis is an asymptomatic phase with no clinical signs of organ involvement.
Tertiary syphillis occurs 5-10 years after secondary syphillis and can involve the heart and the brain.
These four stages only occur if syphillis is not detected early enough and treated appropriately. Due to the varying severity of symptoms, syphillis may remain undetected for many years until the heart and brain are involved.