Syphilis is a chronic systemic infection caused by a microbe called spirochete. Syphilis is a venereal disease, which is transmitted from workers and is thus acquired. However, congenital syphilis also occurs though uncommon. Syphilis is a transmitted infection (STI) caused by a spirochaete bacterium , Treponema pallidum . Syphilis can also be passed from mother to infant during pregnancy causing a disease called congenital syphilis. Rarely, syphilis is transmitted by means other than from a partner or mother to child. The discovery of penicillin in the 1940s and its use in treating syphilis led to a dramatic decline in the incidence of the disease. The signs and symptoms of syphilis are myriad; before the advent of serological testing , diagnosis was more difficult and the disease was dubbed the "Great Imitator" because it was so often confused with other diseases. Syphilis can be frightening because if it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems and increase a person's risk for HIV , the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. A syphilis infection can be treated at the early stages with antibiotics, and it can be prevented by avoiding any contact with an infected person or a person with an unknown health history. Rates of the disease have remained relatively steady for women, yet syphilis is on the rise in men.
Clinical Features of Syphilis
1. Primary Syphilis: The bacteria involved enters the body through the mucous membrane of the genital organ, rectum or mouth. The primary lesion, persists for 2-3 weeks and then heals spontaneously.
2. Secondary Syphilis: Symptoms appear 6-8 weeks after the healing of the primary ulcer. The clinical features are fever, pains, loss of appetite and the appearance of a red rash on the chest wall. Lymph nodes are enlarged. The secondary stage lasts 2-6 weeks.
3. Latent Stage: This stage appears months or years after the original infection. Tumour like masses called gummas form and may occur in the skin or in the other organs of the body.
4. Late Stage: This stage affects the aorta or central nervous system. The patient has blindness, paralysis, weakness of muscles, stabbing pains, unsteadiness in walking.
Management of Syphilis
1. Use of condoms.
2. Avoid alcohol. A drunken man always makes mistakes.
3. Consult a physician.