Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by Treponema pallidum infection. The most common way to transmit T. pallidum infection is through sexual contact with an infected person.
|Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum.|
Syphilis - A Sexually Transmitted Bacterial Infection: Types and Stages of Syphilis
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is considered one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) caused by infection with a bacterium called Treponema pallidum.
Syphilis is a highly contagious disease, and it may cause serious and chronic complications, such as arthritis, brain damage, dementia, and blindness, and may lead to death if left untreated.
The appearance of small, painless sores is the first sign of syphilis, and these sores may appear, either on the sexual organs, the rectum, or inside the mouth, and the patient usually does not notice them.
Syphilis is often difficult to diagnose, and the patient may not have any symptoms for years.
The early diagnosis of this disease is considered of great benefit, as long-term complications without treatment can affect many vital parts of the human body, such as the heart and brain.
Syphilis is transmitted between people through direct contact with sores. It is not transmitted through the use of the same toilet, or wearing the patient's clothes, or even when using the food utensils.
Studies indicate that more than 56 thousand people suffer from syphilis in the United States of America, and it may affect women and men alike, but the rates of infection have decreased in recent years among women, although it is increasing among men, especially after the spread of homosexuality.
The number of people with syphilis experienced a significant decrease in the second half of the last century due to the discovery of Penicillin, which is the first treatment for this disease.
Four Stages of Syphilis
Syphilis infection is divided into four stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary), with different symptoms that appear on the patient and different signs associated with each stage.
These stages may overlap with each other, and symptoms may not appear in order. Some patients have not had any symptoms for years. As for the stages of syphilis infection, they are as follows:
Primary syphilis: During the primary stage, painless sores appear at the site of infection (mouth, rectum, penis, anus, or vagina).
In most cases, the patient develops a single sore, although some patients experience many sores, and these sores appear about three weeks after the disease.
It may be difficult for many patients to notice these sores, as they are not accompanied by any pain, and they may disappear in the vagina or rectum. The sore usually lasts three to six weeks and heals regardless of whether or not you receive treatment. The treatment can stop primary syphilis from moving to the secondary stage.
Secondary syphilis: During the secondary stage, the patient may have skin rashes and/or mucous membrane lesions.
Secondary syphilis usually starts with a rash on one or more areas of the body. A person is highly contagious during this stage.
The rash can appear from 2 to 8 weeks after the chancre develops and sometimes before it heals. The rash may look like rough, red, or reddish-brown spots on the bottoms of the feet and/or the palms of the hands. This rash does not usually cause itching, but it may be accompanied by warts-like sores in the mouth and on sexual areas.
Some patients may experience other symptoms, such as hair loss, muscle pain, high body temperature, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.
These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, and sometimes they continue to appear and disappear for a whole year.
Latent (hidden) syphilis: During the latent stage of syphilis, the patient moves from the secondary stage to the latent after the disease has not been treated properly, and it may continue for years without any symptoms appearing, or either the symptoms disappear completely and the patient does not feel them again, or the patient moves to the third stage.
A person is contagious in the early part of the latent stage and may be contagious during the latent period when there are no symptoms.
Tertiary syphilis: Also called the late stage of syphilis. This is the most destructive stage, in which complications of syphilis appear in patients who have not undergone the required treatment.
Tertiary syphilis is tested between 15 to 30% of syphilis patients and it may begin as early as 1 year after infection or at any time during a person's lifetime.
In this stage, the disease affects various parts of the body; Such as the brain, heart, nerves, eyes, muscles, bones, liver, and blood vessels and can result in death.
What Is Neurosyphilis?
Neurosyphilis is a bacterial infection of the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) in a patient with syphilis.
Neurosyphilis usually occurs in people with untreated chronic syphilis, where this disease appears about 10-20 years after the first infection. Neurosyphilis can occur at any stage of syphilis.
In the case of neurosyphilis, the patient may experience symptoms such as severe pain in the head, numbness, paralysis of some areas of the body, and dementia.
Ocular syphilis is a subtype of neurosyphilis that can be associated with uveitis, optic neuropathy, and other conditions that threaten vision.
Ocular syphilis can include almost any structure of the eye, but panuveitis and posterior uveitis are the most common manifestations.
Symptoms of ocular syphilis include vision changes, low visual acuity, and permanent blindness.
What is Congenital Syphilis?
Congenital syphilis is a severe, disabling, and often a life-threatening infectious disease caused by a spirochete (treponema pallidum).
This infectious disease spreads from a pregnant mother who has syphilis to the child during fetal development or at birth.
Symptoms of congenital syphilis may not appear until several weeks or months after birth and, in some cases, the symptoms may take years to appear.
Most newborns with syphilis have no symptoms, although some suffer from a rash that appears on the sole of the foot and hand, and delayed symptoms may also include hearing loss, or deformities in the teeth, or in the nose.
Up to half of all babies with syphilis infection while they are in the womb die shortly before or after birth.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum (T. pallidum). Syphilis infection is divided into four stages (primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary).
Syphilis can be treated in the early stages, but without treatment, it can lead to neurological disorders, disability, and even death.