Treponema pallidum (syphilis)

General or Other | General Practice | Treponema pallidum (syphilis) (Disease)


Syphilis is a disease / sexually transmitted infection, which untreated can cause major complications. Infection has alternating periods of activity and inactivity (latency period). Symptoms occur during periods of activity, the latency periods there are no symptoms, but the patient is still infected.

Causes and Risk factors

Whoever comes in contact with a person infected with syphilis can get sick. Intercourse is not necessary to be transmitted infection, this can be achieved by mere contact with the mouth, rectum or genitals of a infected person . Syphilis is an infection caused by bacteria called Treponema pallidum.

The lesions usually occur on the genitals external vagina, anus or rectum. Damage can sometimes occur on the lips or around the lips. The bacteria enter the body, usually through the mucous membranes, most frequently around the genitals and urinary tract. Rarely, the bacteria enter the body through the skin continuity solutions, such as cuts, or by kissing if the infected person has a lesion in the mouth or lips. Syphilis can be transmitted by using a needle previously used for / by an infected person.

Another way of transmission is through blood transfusions, but this way is very rare because blood collected for transfusion is tested for sexually transmitted diseases and bacteria that causes syphilis do not last more than 24-48 hours in conditions which stored blood for transfusion. If you are pregnant and infected with syphilis bacteria can cross the placenta and infect the fetus at any stage of pregnancy or birth (congenital syphilis).

Syphilis is not transmitted through casual contact with toilet seats, door handles, the water in pools, bathtubs, the clothes or dishes. An infection with Treponema pallidum in the past, do not protect the individual for a new infection, although, in rare cases may occur resistance to disease that protects the individual against a new infection.

A person with syphilis can transmit the disease (contagious) partners when lesions are primary or secondary. The infected person can be contagious intermittently for years and is always contagious when open lesions or rash caused by syphilis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The main of therapy for syphilis is antibiotic treatment, usually penicillin. Doxycycline may be used if you have a penicillin allergy.

Penicillin is given either intramuscularly or intravenously depending on the stage of syphilis. Follow up blood tests (RPR) are usually taken to track the efficacy of the treatment.

If the appropriate antibiotic treatment is given for syphilis in its primary and secondary stages it completely cures this disease. In the latent and tertiary or final stage of syphilis treatment can still eradicate and stop further damage occurring. The damage that has already happen has to be treated but is often difficult or impossible to...

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