Syphilis is a sexually transmitted and highly infectious disease caused by the spirochaete which is a spiral-shaped bacterium called as Treponema pallidum. The extremely infectious disease may also be passed, but much less frequently, through blood transfusions or from mother to fetus in the womb. Without proper treatment, syphilis can cause permanent damage to the brain, nerves, and other body tissues. Mainly syphilis is sexually transmitted, when syphilitic sores which are present on the genitals or in another place are rubbed against the skin of sexual partner, the spirochaetes may be passed on through a small rupture in genital skin or its membranes.
Syphilis can remain hidden as any disease. Therefore, your doctor will cautiously sort out the symptoms, ask when they emerged, and take an entire sexual history. The doctor may ask regarding your use of condoms and if you’re sexual partners demonstrate any related symptoms. Through the primary stage, the doctor will look for a solo, painless sore on the male or female genital organs. The anus and other different parts of the body might also be the location of the early infection. Lymph nodes close to a sore may be inflamed. During the primary stage, the doctor may take a sample of your sore and execute a dark-field microscope exam. This test can also be helpful in the secondary stage.
Secondary syphilis often presents with a diffuse rash and inflamed lymph nodes. Lesions on the palms and soles of the feet make the identification of syphilis more probable. Blood testing is the basis of diagnosis in the secondary stage; the doctor will generally order one of the tests like VDRL, RPR, and FTA-ABS. During the tertiary stage, the doctor may require to obtain a sample of your spinal fluid to confirm for infection.
In the early infections the first-line treatment for uncomplicated syphilis remains a single dose of intramuscular penicillin G injection. Doxycycline and tetracycline are kept as an alternative choice but this cannot be used in the case of women who are pregnant. Antibiotic resistance has started developing in a number of treatment options including antibiotics like clindamycin, macrolides, and rifampin. Ceftriaxone may be as effective and can be used as an alternative to the penicillin based treatment.
In the advanced stages like neurosyphilis due to the poor diffusion of penicillin G into the central nervous system it is suggested that those patients who are affected should be given in large doses of intravenous penicillin for at least for 10 days. If a patient is allergic, ceftriaxone may be used as an alternative and penicillin desensitization should be attempted. Other late stages may be treated with treatment of once weekly intramuscular penicillin G for three weeks. If the patient is allergic to penicillin as in the case of early illness, doxycycline or tetracycline may be used by the doctor but for a longer period. Treatment at this time will limit advanced progression but has only slight outcome on damage which has by now occurred.
Syphilis was the greatest and the most feared of the sexually transmitted diseases. The expression still frighten most people, but syphilis can now be cured since the spirochaetes are very sensitive to antibiotics, penicillin still remains the best treatment.