Syphilis is an infection caused by a bacterium Treponema pallidum (Treponema pallidum ) that is spread by sexual activity an STD or STI. Since it is contracted through sexual contact and many STDs are not immediately known they are usually spread easily and sometimes quickly. This is also the case with syphilis. Like most STDs, syphilis can be passed on by the pregnant mother to her child, which can cause reduced chances to survive. Some babies die in the womb others shortly after birth if they have contracted syphilis from their mother and she was not treated during the pregnancy.
Syphilis can be obtained through anal or oral sex as direct contact with a syphilis sore can lead to infection. After the infection is acquired it can lie passively for decades in your body before becoming re-activated again.
Because of all the risks involved in contracting syphilis and other STDs, it is highly recommended to take precautions and preventative measures if you are sexually active. Use a condom properly. Try to limit sexual partners or have one single sex partner. And remember that the only way to truly stay safe from getting any STD is from having no sex at all.
What Are The Symptoms Or Signs Of Syphilis?
The initial sign of syphilis is a small and solid sore that is called a chancre. The chancre is solid but without pain and it appears near the vaginal and genital areas. If left untreated, a rash may spread followed by fever.
Treatment Of Syphilis
Syphilis can be treated easily with the antibiotic penicillin. The amount of medication you will need depends on the length of time since you have contracted syphilis. Having syphilis for a short period of time (less than a year) will be easily treated with one shot of penicillin. You will need more shots depending on the longer length of time the disease has been with you. If you are expecting but have been treated longer than 26 weeks before your expected delivery your baby is safe from contracting syphilis.
If left untreated syphilis can actually cause complications in the heart and neurological issues such as stroke. If you suspect you have syphilis, the best thing to do is to be tested immediately.
Syphilis In Children
If an unborn child has been passed syphilis through the blood by its mother the child’s chances of survival are greatly challenged. Studies show a 40% mortality rate in children who develop syphilis this way. They can either die before they are born or die shortly after birth. If they survive, they may be plagued with health problems as they grow and develop. These include hearing problems, brain damage, and complications in the bones and teeth.
Who Has A Higher Risk Of Contracting Syphilis?
The following people have a great chance of contracting syphilis than others:
- Gay men
- Those who are HIV positive
- Those who have more than one partner sexually
- Those who do not practice safe sexual practices