Syphilis is a very common disease most especially when we talk of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. The disease is mainly caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. The disease affects many individuals especially those who have multiple sexual partners, and the like. T. pallidum belongs to the spirochete family like the bacteria causing Lyme disease and Leptospirosis.
How Syphilis Is Transmitted?
Syphilis can be transmitted by contact with the mucus membranes. Mucus membranes are moist areas of our body like the oral cavity, vaginal and anal areas. In some cases, syphilis can infect the eyes, especially during normal delivery of a child when the newborn passes through the birth canal of the mother who has an infection. A mucus membrane to mucus membrane contact is required in order to conclude that syphilis has been transmitted.
Thus, skin to skin contacts, sharing clothing or toilet seats with persons infected with syphilis does not play a role in the transmission of the disease.
Stages of Syphilis
Just like any other disease caused by the spirochetes, syphilis has a distinct course of signs and symptoms.
It usually starts with a chancre in the mucus membranes where the infection was acquired. Chancres are like ulcers which are painless, thus, individuals may just ignore them, not knowing the cause of these ulcers is. This is the start of the Primary stage of the disease. If not treated immediately, the person may suffer from the secondary stage of syphilis.
The secondary stage usually begins when the ulcers or chancres start to heal. It starts with a rash, usually on the palms of the hand or the soles of the feet. In some instances, these rashes may cover the entire body, while in some, these rashes may just infest a certain area of the body. Again, since these rashes are non-pruritic or non-itchy, these can always be ignored making the person advance to the third stage of the disease.
The third phase is called the latent stage. It is called latent because the signs and symptoms are hidden, making the person asymptomatic. However, although the person is asymptomatic of the disease, the communicability remains and the person can still transmit the disease to others. In this stage, it is a must that the individual must take necessary measures to submit himself to treatment, otherwise, he may advance to the next phase which can be very dangerous to his health.
The last stage of the disease is the tertiary stage. In this phase, the person’s body organs are being destroyed by the bacterium. This includes even the brain which is referred to as neurosyphilis.
Syphilis can be treated easily by injectable antibiotics for faster drug action and recovery. Combination of drugs can also be used for management to prevent or treat complications of the disease.
Generally, syphilis can be a dangerous threat to one’s health, like any other disease. The important factor towards treating syphilis is early diagnosis and treatment. This way, the person can avoid suffering the harmful after effects of the disease, leading to a healthier and more productive life.