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This is Syphilis...Syphilis is transmitted by sexual contact. It can also be passed at birth from mother to child as the newborn rubs along the...
  1. This is Syphilis...Syphilis is transmitted by sexual contact. It can also be passed at birth from mother to child as the newborn rubs along the birth canal.

    A syphilis infection begins locally and slowly spreads systemically. Over time, untreated syphilis will go through stages that give different signs and symptoms. Initially, a person may come to a doctor with primary syphilis (i.e., a local genital infection) or a few months later with secondary syphilis (i.e., a systemic infection).

    The stages of syphilis infection are as follows:

    Primary syphilis.
    Primary syphilis is a local infection. Its hallmark is the appearance of an ulcer called a chancre. Typically, there is only one chancre, located at the site of infection: the penis, vulva, cervix, perianal region, or oral mucosa. The chancre appears a few weeks after T. pallidum bacteria have invaded the skin. (The incubation period is between 10 and 90 days.) A syphilis chancre has firm, raised edges and a smooth internal base, and it is painless. Local lymph nodes may be enlarged. If untreated, chancres heal spontaneously in 3 to 6 weeks, leaving faint scars.

    Secondary syphilis.
    When primary syphilis is not treated, the chancre disappears for a few weeks. The disease then reappears as secondary syphilis. Secondary syphilis is a systemic infection with flu-like symptoms—a low-grade fever, headache, malaise, generalized lymphadenopathy, and a widespread, symmetrical, non-itchy maculopapular rash, first on the trunk and arms and later on the palms and soles. The genital area may also have wart-like papules. During secondary syphilis, a person can develop syphilitic hepatitis or syphilitic glomerulonephritis.

    Latent syphilis.
    When secondary syphilis is untreated, the symptoms usually fade and the disease becomes quiescent, sometimes for years. This asymptomatic interim stage is called latent syphilis.

    Tertiary syphilis (late-stage syphilis).
    In approximately one third of the patients who have latent syphilis, the disease reemerges if not treated and causes symptomatic damage to a variety of organs. This can occur 10 to 20 years after the initial infection. This is the final form of the disease. Tertiary syphilis can take many years, even decades, to become symptomatic. It produces granulomatous or necrotic lesions that can involve the skin, eyes, central nervous system, heart, aorta, or bones. Today, tertiary syphilis is rare except in patients with a concurrent HIV infection.

    Pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the disease to their newborn baby at the time of birth. The infant can then develop congenital syphilis, which, when untreated, can delay development, cause seizures, or even be fatal.