Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by a kind of bacteria called Treponema pallidum.
Syphilis is spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has an active syphilis infection. It is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore. Most often the sores are found on the genitals, but they can occur on the lips, in the mouth, or anywhere on the body.
Babies can get syphilis if their mother is infected because the bacteria can pass through the placenta during pregnancy.
Many people infected with syphilis do not have any symptoms for years. However, with or without symptoms, the syphilis infection will stay in the body until it is cured. If it is not treated it can cause serious complications.
While in the body, syphilis passes through many stages. At each of these stages there are different symptoms. The symptoms are:
In its later stages syphilis can cause symptoms of the heart, brain or other organs.
The first symptoms can start from 10 to 90 days (average 21 days) after contact with someone who has the infection.
Syphilis can be treated with a penicillin injection or with other antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. It is important to take the medication until it is gone.
If you have syphilis, you must work with public health to notify your sex partners so that they also can be tested and treated if necessary.
Yes, having syphilis once doesn’t protect a person from getting it again. Even after your syphilis has been treated and cured, you can still get it again.
The surest way to avoid syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections is to:
To reduce your risk of getting syphilis:
See your doctor if you have any symptoms of syphilis.