Syphilis – what it is

Syphilis, also known as Lues, is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by bacteria.

The disease is highly contagious and can be transmitted through blood transfusion or during pregnancy from an infected mother to the fetus in the womb. In this case, the baby is born with congenital syphilis.

Without treatment, the disease can cause irreversible damage to the brain, nervous system and cardiovascular disease.

What are the symptoms

Syphilis occurs in three main phases.

  • The initial phase – usually begins with pain at the site of the infection. Then a painless lesion appears – an ulcer on the skin of the male or female genital organs, although it can appear on any part of the body. This initial lesion develops about 2-3 weeks after infection and disappears spontaneously after about 3-6 weeks. Although the wound disappears, this is not the case with the disease. It progresses into its secondary phase.
  • Secondary phase – begins about 4 to 10 weeks after the chancre disappears. This phase occurs with many symptoms that may be characteristic of other diseases. This stage can pass without treatment, but then the disease enters its third stage.

The most commonly reported symptoms of the second stage are:

– Fever;

– Pains in the joints;

– Pains in the muscles;

– Sore throat;

– Flu-like symptoms;

– Rash all over body usually on palms and soles;

– Loss of appetite;

– Swelling of lymph nodes;

– Partial hair loss;

  • Latent phase – the beginning of the latent phase – the first 1-2 years, characterized by occasional relapses, with the symptoms characteristic of the second phase appearing. After the passage of 2 years from the onset of latent syphilis, almost no symptoms appear and patients are usually not contagious. However, the infection can still be transmitted from the mother to the fetus or through a blood transfusion.
  • In about half of people in the latent phase, syphilis progresses to the tertiary stage after many years or decades. At this stage, the heart, skin, brain and bones are at risk. Fortunately, with the discovery of penicillin, cases of tertiary Lewes are very rare.

Congenital syphilis develops after infection of the fetus in the mother’s womb. This type of Lues causes tooth abnormalities, bone problems, enlargement of the liver, spleen, brain infection, etc.

What are the causes

Syphilis is an infectious disease that is most often transmitted through sexual contact. It is caused by the bacteria TreponemaPallidum. They penetrate through prolonged rubbing into the skin and mucous membranes of the infected person.

Transmission most often occurs when an uninfected person comes into contact with the lesions of an infected person – most often during sexual contact.

Men are more vulnerable to contracting syphilis than women. The disease is most often found in men and women between the ages of 15 and 39.

Syphilis treatment

Only antibiotic therapy will cure the infection. When treatment is started in the primary, secondary and earlier stages of the latent phase of the disease, a single injection of penicillin cures the disease.

Those allergic to penicillin may be prescribed oral antibiotics such as doxycycline, tetracycline, or erythromycin, which are taken for 2 weeks.

When Lewes is found at the end of its latent phase, or it cannot be determined how long it has been since the beginning of this phase, three weekly injections of penicillin are required.

For allergies to penicillin, oral antibiotics are prescribed.

If syphilis has progressed and affected the nervous system – neurosyphilis, an intravenous infusion of penicillin is required every 4 hours for 10-14 days.

An alternative is penicillin injections once daily in combination with oral probenecid 4 times daily.

How to protect yourself

Like most sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis can be prevented by practicing safe sex through the use of a condom.

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