Butterflies, house flies, mosquitoes, and syphilis have something in common developmentally and that is the fact that as butterflies, flies, and mosquitoes evolve from the egg stage to the larva stage then to the pupa and finally emerge as full-blown adults, so does syphilis symptoms evolve in four (4) stages. The developmental stages of syphilis symptoms are:
- Primary syphilis
- Secondary syphilis
- Latent syphilis
- Tertiary syphilis
The symptoms of syphilis and the signs that abound at various developmental stages of the infection varies so much that one developmental stage can be differentiated from the other with ease.
Primary syphilis is the first of the four (4) developmental stages of the sexually transmitted disease known as syphilis. Primary syphilis takes an average of 21 days between contraction of the bacterial disease and the beginning of its first symptoms; however, in some cases, the number of days may range from 10 to 90 days.
How is primary syphilis contracted?
Primary syphilis, being a sexually transmitted disease, is usually and most often than not, contracted through unsafe and unprotected sexual activities such as:
- Anal sex
- Penile or vaginal sex
- Oral sex
If a person indulges in the above without prerequisite utilization of latex condoms, dental dam, and the likes, such a person becomes highly susceptible to being infected with primary syphilis.
Though unborn babies cannot and do not indulge in any form of sexual activities, they are rather unfairly susceptible to being infected with primary syphilis. If a mother is infected with primary syphilis during pregnancy, the infected mother could transmit same to the child during the period of the pregnancy or at the birth of the child. When this happens, it is said that congenital syphilis has occurred.
Symptoms of Primary Syphilis
Symptoms of primary syphilis usually begin to manifest within 10 to 90 days of the contraction of the dreaded sexually transmitted disease. The typical manifestations or signs that abound are:
- Small, painless sores called ‘chancres’ pop up at the site or spot of the infection or spot where Treponema Pallidum (the bacteria that causes syphilis) entered the body of the patient through. These sites or spots include:
- Mouth. If the patient got infected via oral sex;
- Anus. If the patient got infected via anal sex;
- Rectum. If contracted through anal sex;
- Vagina. If contracted through penile or vaginal sex, oral sex or anal sex; and
- Penis. If contracted through penile or vaginal sex, oral sex, or anal sex.
- It is usually symptomatic of primary syphilis for the small, painless sores or chancres mentioned above to disappear on their own after about 3 to 6 weeks of appearance.
It is appropriate to caution at this juncture that because the sores or chancres disappear does not mean that the patient is healed or cured of primary syphilis nor does it mean that the patient can no longer spread primary syphilis to uninfected persons. What the sudden disappearance of the sores or chancres mean is that primary syphilis has progressed and now promoted to its second symptomatic stage which is secondary syphilis.
Diagnosis of Primary Syphilis
Due largely to the technical expertise, experience, and machinery required for conducting a diagnosis of primary syphilis, it is seen and said to be difficult to diagnose.
Primary syphilis is clinically diagnosed via blood tests or through direct visual inspection of sores or chancres using microscopy.
Blood tests which involve the taking of blood samples from the patient are divided into two separate tests of non-treponemal and treponemal tests.
The requirements for the conduct of a direct visual inspection of samples taken from sores or chancres using microscopy being difficult to acquire and assemble as a result of the cost of the equipment or machinery and technical-know-how and experience of the laboratory technician means that the easier of the two methods of diagnosing primary syphilis is blood tests.
Prevention of Primary Syphilis
The ideal way to prevent contracting primary syphilis is to abstain from sexual activities of every form and refrain from sharing sharp objects arbitrarily. Thus, it may be beneficial to:
- Use a latex condom appropriately during every round of all forms of sexual activities;
- Use a dental dam appropriately during oral and anal sex;
- Get tested and screened for primary syphilis and other STDs regularly;
- Desist from sharing sex toys especially when the sex toys are unsterilized; etc.
Treatment of Primary Syphilis
Primary syphilis is most often treated with a single dose of intramuscular Benzathine Benzylpenicillin. Where Benzathine Benzylpenicillin causes allergic reactions in the patient, Doxycycline and Tetracycline are recommended and prescribed in the alternative.
As far as primary syphilis in pregnant women is concerned, it is pertinent to note that primary syphilis is treated before childbirth. The abovementioned drugs could be detrimental to a pregnant patient and her unborn child, thus, it is recommended that where it is found that a pregnant patient is allergic to the abovementioned drugs, the pregnant patient would have to go through a screening process that will enable her to take the antibiotics mentioned above.
It is of utmost importance to point out that a patient that has been treated for primary syphilis should avoid sex, especially unprotected sex until the sores or chancres are healed and have disappeared.
It is conclusively advised for one to prevent contracting primary syphilis and in the event where one fails to prevent contracting primary syphilis, regular test should be done to know the prevalence of the illness in one’s system and combat it as quickly as possible to avoid it getting to the 2nd, 3rd or the 4th stages of syphilis.