Syphilis - Health Center
By Refadoc, Posted on : Thursday, 01 October 2015 - 4:42 am IST
Syphilis - Overview
Syphilis is widely known to be a bacterial infection that spreads generally from one person to the other via sexual contact. Usually in the primary stages, this disease begins with a painless sore and then goes out to increase towards the genitals, rectum and mouth of the affected person. Syphilis is primarily known to spread from one person to the other by the means of the skin or the mucous membranes. When either of these comes in touch with the affected person, the disease progresses eventually and increases immensely.
Usually, the sole reason why this disease remains undetected in most people is due to the virtue of the bacteria to remain dormant in the body of the infected person for decades and then suddenly they tend to become effective again. Though, the early infection for syphilis is known to be treated very easy with the help of a single shot of penicillin, however, in the later stages, if the disease remains untreated, then it can come out to damage the heart, brain or even other vital organs of the person. Not only has that, in some of the rare cases, the disease proven to be fatal as well.
All over the world, Syphilis is on a decline rate over the last couple of years. However, the disease is comparatively on the rise amongst men who indulge in homosexual relationships. Also, the genital sores which are usually restricted to Syphilis are known to make the people highly susceptible towards developing HIV; a virus which is known to spread
Causes for the Occurrence of Syphilis
Basically, a bacterium by the name of Treponema pallidum is known to be the causative factor for the occurrence of syphilis. One of the most common ways for the spreading of this virus is by contact with the infected person and his sores during the course of sexual activity. These bacteria are known to enter the body of the person through the cuts, sores or abrasions which are found on the surface of the skin.
Since syphilis is known to be a contagious disease, therefore, in some of the primary as well as later stages, it is known to spread from one person to the other.
Also, one of the other reasons for the spread of the bacterium is the direct contact of the bacterium from one person to the other. When a person comes in contact with an active lesion or when bacterium passes from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby, the virus tends to spread. There have been cases where the bacterium has spread even during childbirth. This is known as congenital syphilis.
Doctors have explained that one of the biggest misconceptions attached with the spread of Syphilis is that it spreads from a person to the other by the use of the same washroom, clothing, and utensils or even by staying in the same room. Also, Syphilis once cured, does not reoccur.
Symptoms of Syphilis
Syphilis is known to occur in stages. However, the symptoms of the disease do not occur in the same order. Some of the symptoms tend to overlap over the passage of time.
Some of the major symptoms of Syphilis are:
One of the major symptoms for Syphilis is the formation of a small sore, which is known as a chancre. This sore usually tends to occur at a place where the bacterium has entered the body. Though most of the people who are suffering from Syphilis develop this sore, in some of the cases this sore develops after three weeks of the initial infection. Also, most of the people do not tend to notice the chancre because it is painless and can be hidden within the vagina or the rectum. The chancre tends to heal on its own within six weeks on its own.
Once the chancre heals after a couple of weeks, often people are able to observe a rash which begins on the trunk and then descends on the entire body. Sometimes, even on the palms of the hands and the sole of the feet, the rash begins to develop. Usually, the rash is not itchy and affected people also develop wart like scabs on the mouth or the genital area. Other signs and symptoms of the disease are sore throat, muscle aches, fever as well as swelling in the lymph nodes.
In case the treatment is not done in the primary or secondary stages, then the disease moves to the latent stage. In this stage there are no symptoms. This stage can last for a couple of years and the disease moves to the next stage.
Around 15-30% of people, who suffer from syphilis, tend to move to the tertiary stage. In these late stages, the disease can come out to damage the brain, nerves as well as eyes, blood vessels and liver of the person.
This type of syphilis takes places in children who become infected from their mother during pregnancy or during childbirth. Though newborn children do not show any symptoms for the disease, they tend to fell sores on the palms of their hands or feet. Some of the later symptoms are deformities in the teeth or the deafness in ears.
Some of the people who are most at risk from suffering from the disease are:
- People who indulge in unprotected sexual activity.
- People having maximum sexual partners.
- Homosexual relationships.
- People infected with HIV, a virus which causes AIDS.
Tests and Diagnosis of Syphilis
Some of the major tests which are used for the diagnosis of Syphilis are as follows:
- Blood Tests: These tests are known to confirm the presence of antibodies in the blood which are to fight against the bacterium. These antibodies which are formed in the body against the disease are the ones which can remain active in the body of the person for years and the can be used by the blood tests to determine the infections.
- Fluid from the sores: During this this test, the doctor tends to scrape off the sample of cells from the of the affected person and analyze it under the microscope. This test is done primarily for people suffering from primary or secondary syphilis. The scraping can find out the presence of the bacterium in the body of the affected person.
- Cerebral Spinal Fluid: Sometimes, people suffering from Syphilis are known to be suspected towards developing complications in the nervous system. In such a case, the cerebra spinal fluid of the affected person is collected along with the help of the lumbar puncture.
Treatments for Syphilis
In case of the earlier detection of the disease, it can be easily cured. In the primary cases, penicillin is used for the treatment of the disease. A single injection of the same is known to spread the disease from spreading.
Penicillin is only known to be suggested for the use of the syphilis in pregnant women. On the first day of the treatment for the disease, the reaction achieved is known as Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction.
The symptoms of the same are known to be nausea, headache, pain and chills.
The following are the treatment follow ups which are used for people suffering from Syphilis:
- Usual periodic blood tests as well as exams in order to make sure that you are dealing with the treatment in a positive way.
- Avoidance of sexual contact until and unless the treatment has been completed and the blood tests clear the person off.
- Notification of the sex partners who can be tested and necessary treatment can be meted out to them.
- Testing for HIV infections.
Prevention of Syphilis
In order to prevent the spread of disease, the following precautions are necessary:
- Abstinence: The best way is to abstain from sexual contact. Another major option is to stick to monogamous sex with a partner who is not infected.
- Using Latex Condom: Condoms are known to reduce the risk of a person to contract the disease.
- Avoidance of use of drugs: The excess use of alcohol and other drugs can lead towards numbing of the judgement of the person and can lead to the indulgence in unsafe sexual relations.