Syphilis is a
highly contagious disease caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum and
spread through sexual contact. It infects the genital area, lips, mouth, or anus
of both men and women.
of syphilis are the same for men and women and can be difficult to recognize.
cannot be spread by toilet seats, swimming pools, hot tubs, bath tubs, shared
clothing, or eating utensils.
women with the disease can spread it to their baby. This disease, called
congenital syphilis, can cause abnormalities or even death to the child.
The signs and
symptoms of syphilis vary depending on the stage:
stage. It usually
with painless sores called chancres that appear on the mouth, genitals, or anus.
The chancre lasts three to six weeks and may heal on its own, but it does not
mean the disease is over.
stage. It occurs about several weeks after the appearance of the painless sores.
A red rash may appear anywhere on the body along with symptoms as headache,
fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, among others. If not treated, symptoms may
disappear but the bacteria can remain
in the body.
stage. It is the stage when the disease is “hidden”. The patient experiences no
symptoms but remain infected. The latent stage can last for years.
stage. At this stage, it can cause serious damage to the body. Tertiary syphilis
causes heart, brain, and nervous system problems.