Syphilis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Syphilis is a chronic, systemic, and infectious disease caused by microscopic bacterium Treponema palladium. This disease can be transmitted via blood transfusion, sexual contact, and may be passed from mother to infant in childbirth. This disease is often very misleading and it can be very dangerous. Syphilis, thought to be healed, is not always gone from oneÂs body. It can continue to spread throughout the body without any known symptoms.
This spiral shaped organism was discovered in 1905 by the German bacteriologist, Fritz Scaudinn. It enters the body through mucous membranes. The organism can reproduce and invade the entire body. They bacterium can be destroyed at a temperature of 107.6 Fahrenheit, by soap and water and drying properly.
Many infected do not show symptoms for years, which can cause future health risks arising from lack of treatment. The primary stage is marked by the appearance of a sore located where the infection entered the body (typically the mouth, genitals, ect.). The sore feels like a button, firm and round. You do not generally feel sick in the primary stage of syphilis and the sore heals after a few weeks even without treatment, however the disease remains very much alive.
The secondary stage is marked by skin rash and mucous membrane lesions in numerous areas of the body, not just where the infection originally occurred; in addition to this rash, symptoms include ever, sore throat, headaches, patchy hair loss, muscle aches, fatigue, and weight loss. In the tertiary stage, known as the late/latent stage, symptoms of the first and second stages disappear. If left untreated, however, damage to internal organs, such as brain and heart, may occur. This can cause paralysis, blindness, dementia, and if serious enough, death.
Syphilis is easy to cure in its early stages. Diagnosis of the sexually transmitted syphilis is done by the examination of the symptoms and cerebrospinal fluid. Testing and treatment early in is the best way to prevent syphilis in infants and should be a routine part of prenatal care. If the infected person has carried the disease for one year or less, a single intramuscular injection of penicillin can be injected into their system and they will be cured. If the individual has carried the disease for more than one year, multiple injections of penicillin are needed in order to cure the disease. Treatment will cure the disease and prevent further damage, but will not reverse any damages already occurred.
Syphilis cannot be spread through everyday contact such as from eating utensils, toilet seats, doorknobs, or sharing clothes. The best way to ensure that you do not contract this disease is to abstain from sex or to be in a monogamous relationship. Other forms of protection include correct and consistent use of a latex condom. Individuals who receive treatment for the disease must abstain from sexual contact with new partners until their syphilis sores have completely healed in order to prevent transmission of the disease.
Syphilis is a curable disease, but if left untreated can cause horrific harm to the nervous system. According to the STD Statistics Worldwide, Âmost current statistics estimated 12.2 million cases of syphilis occurred worldwide in 1999.Â Also, according to STD statistics for the USA, Ânumbers of reported primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses have varied widely since reporting began, from a high of 94,957 documented and reported cases in 1946 to a low if 5,979 reported and documented cases in 2000. This represents a change from 70.9 cases per 100,000 to 2.1 cases. Due to the low numbers, the Surgeon General in 1999 announced a plan to eliminate syphilis from the USA. However, since that year the rate of reported primary and secondary syphilis has risen slightly, and remains a long way from the healthy people 2010 target of 0.2 cases per 100,000 populations.Â