Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Syphilis Overview

What is syphilis?
A person with syphilis has a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria, Treponema pallidum. Syphilis spreads through sexual contact. The bacteria enter the body through the lining of the mouth, vagina, and the penis. About 1 out of 50,000 people develop syphilis each year in the US.

What are the symptoms of syphilis?
Symptoms of syphilis are separated into three stages. The symptoms of stage 1 syphilis include a skin ulcer, which is usually located on the genitals, but may be located on other parts of the body. The symptoms of stage 2 syphilis include a rash, skin lesions, lymph gland swelling, fever, fatigue, joint pains, and body aches. The symptoms of stage 3 syphilis may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty walking, arm weakness or numbness, leg weakness or numbness, and confusion.

How does the doctor treat syphilis?
Treatment for syphilis includes antibiotics and acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever.

Continue to Syphilis Incidence

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Syphilis References
  1. Brown DL, Frank JE.Diagnosis and management of syphilis. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jul 15;68(2):283-90. [12892348]
  2. Chan EL, Kingston MA, Carlin EM. The laboratory diagnosis of gonorrhoea and syphilis infection. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2004 Apr;30(2):126-7. [15087003]
  3. Lambert NL, Fisher M, Imrie J, Watson R, Mercer CH, Parry JV, Phillips A, Iversen A, Perry N, Dean GL. Community based syphilis screening: feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness in case finding. Sex Transm Infect. 2005 Jun;81(3):213-216. [15923287]
  4. Singh AE, Romanowski B.Syphilis: review with emphasis on clinical, epidemiologic, and some biologic features. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1999 Apr;12(2):187-209. [10194456]
  5. Zeltser R, Kurban AK. Syphilis. Clin Dermatol. 2004 Nov-Dec;22(6):461-8. [15596316]
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