Syphilis -causes, Symptoms, Treatment

By: james sameul

Causes of Syphilis

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallid um. It has often been called "the great imitator" because so many of the signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.In the United States, health officials reported over 36,000 cases of syphilis in 2006, including 9,756 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis. In 2006, half of all P&S syphilis cases were reported from 20 counties and 2 cities; and most P&S syphilis cases occurred in persons 20 to 39 years of age..

Syphilis Causes
Transmission most often occurs when one person comes into contact with lesions on an infected person through sexual activity.
Men are more vulnerable to contracting syphilis than women.

Symptoms of Syphilis
Primary Syphilis
The symptoms of the first stage of the infection, which is called primary syphilis, typically appear 2 to 12 weeks after sexual contact with an infected person. A painless red sore called a chancre can appear on the genitals, at the area where the infection occurred. Enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands) also might be present in the area.

Secondary Syphilis
The secondary stage usually begins weeks to months after the chancre sore appears. Syphilis bacteria enter the blood and spread through the body, causing many different symptoms, including rash (small red spots), fever, headache, loss of appetite, weight loss

Tertiary: (also called late benign syphilis). This late form of syphilis can cause destruction of virtually any organ in the body. Granulomas (gummas) are found in bone, skin and other tissues. The heart and blood vessels, and central nervous system are usually the most severely affected (called cardiovascular syphilis and neurosyphilis respectively).

The symptoms of syphilis occur in stages called primary, secondary and late. The first or primary sign of syphilis is usually a sore(s), which is painless and appears at the site of initial contact. It may be accompanied by swollen glands, which develop within a week after the appearance of the initial sore. The sore may last from one to five weeks, and may disappear by itself even if no treatment is received. Approximately six weeks after the sore first appears, a person will enter the second stage of the disease.

Syphilis - Treatment Overview
Follow-up blood tests are required to ensure that treatment has been effective.
Exposed sex partners need to be examined, tested, and treated for syphilis.
A small percentage of patients do not respond to the usual doses of penicillin. Therefore, it is important that patients have periodic repeat blood tests to make sure that the infectious agent has been completely destroyed and there is no further evidence of the disease.

Special blood tests can also be used to diagnose syphilis. The standard screening blood tests for syphilis are called the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) and Rapid Plasminogen Reagent (RPR) tests. These tests detect the body's response to the infection, but not to the actual Treponema organism that causes the infection. These tests are thus referred to as non-treponemal tests.

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