Symptoms Of Syphilis - What Is Syphilis Disease? - Health Article

Symptoms Of Syphilis - What Is Syphilis Disease?

What is syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium (spirochete) Treponema pallidum. The disease occurs only in humans. Worldwide, each year 10 to 12 million people the disease. In the Netherlands exceeds the yearly about 480 people in Flanders 380. Congenital syphilis is in underdeveloped countries is a major cause of perinatal mortality. The bacteria Bifidobacterium cuniculi in the rabbit causes a disease which is called also syphilis. However, this bacterium is not contagious to humans.


The term syphilis originated in an ancient Greek myth about a shepherd named Syphilis. In a poem in 1530 called Girolamo Fracastoro syphilis a French disease. Since the 16th and 17th centuries they feel so ashamed for this disease that describe the habit of the disease was veiled as coming from the country where hate had been to war or other reasons. Germans and English called it the French pox; the Russians, the Polish disease; Poland, the German disease; French Neapolitan disease; the Dutch, Portuguese and North African Spanish disease and the Japanese the Chinese ulcer.

Syphilis symptoms

 Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease  Symptoms Of Syphilis - What Is Syphilis Disease?
Syphilis pictures

There are different stages of the infection.
  • A painless ulcer at the site of initial infection, for example, on the genitals or at the mouth, several weeks (10-90 days) after the contact; Usually results in a painless swelling of the surrounding lymph nodes.
  • A stage with no itchy skin disorders (soles and palms are often affected), flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, malaise) and other abnormalities, some months later;
  • The third stage: neurolues involving the central nervous system is affected by serious neurological and psychiatric symptoms. It took a long time for this disease, which usually until years after infection occurs, it is recognized as a result of late syphilis. In the end, the third stage may result in a cardiovascular syphilis, in which the heart and major blood vessels are affected.

This makes the disease very treacherous, because it heals from the first and second stage and everyone is tempted to think 'to be rid of it. "But the third stage can be deadly, and moreover can infect other sexual partners.

Not everyone who goes by makes the first stage to the second or the third stage; and here is also on those who do not often heal an interval of many years between. There also is the congenital syphilis (syphilis congenita) with typical defects in shape, including the teeth and the shins.

The disease can occur in many forms, which often resemble other diseases, and because it is now rare in the Netherlands sometimes missed, which is unfortunate because he especially in the early stages is highly treatable with antibiotics, in particular, benzylpenicillin.

This particularly painful, but today can be virtually painless injection by adding a local anesthetic. An older drug against syphilis, Salvarsan, discovered by Paul Ehrlich. This drug is for many decades no longer used, it is very toxic and has many side effects. The diagnosis is not particularly troublesome, through a blood test to detect antibodies to the bacterium. In addition, it can be demonstrated in a fluid from the ulcer bacterium. However, given the incubation period that can last up to three months, it is after a first negative outcome is not certain of the fact that no one has syphilis after a control test after three months, which should therefore be negative.

Origin of the disease

Research into the origin of syphilis is based primarily on multiple skeletal onderzoeken.Botafwijkingen characteristic of syphilis be absent in pre-Columbian skeletons (for 1493), Africa and Asia. In North and South America were these abnormalities characteristic of much earlier, depending on the location about 600 to 8,000 years ago. It is thus clear that syphilis existed in the New World ("America") at the time Columbus arrived there. Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola (today's Dominican Republic), an area where the skeletal abnormalities have been documented for skeletons from the period 800-1400 AD This led historians led Columbus and set his crew responsible for the spread of these STIs in Europe.

The hypothesis was controversial, however, because in Europe Pre-Columbian skeletons have been found with lesions that point in the direction of syphilis. In particular, a British study seemed to indicate that there were already in the 13th century, people in Europe with symptoms of syphilis. There are even claims that make the disease go back to Ancient Rome. In paleo pathological examination, it is not evident, however, to exclude other possible causes complete.

Research on the DNA of the bacterium Treponema pallidum states unambiguously an American origin, several millennia ago. By co-evolution had locals built some protection against the disease. The very sudden and violent virulence with which syphilis around 1495 in Europe and the Old World was racing, is consistent with the exposure of a population that did not build these defenses.

Pregnant women and fetus

Syphilis during pregnancy is especially risky for the fetus. For the pregnant woman herself, the disease is not more severe than in non-pregnant women. Vertical transmission expires transplacental or during labor if there are active lesions are present in the mother. Pregnant women from the beginning of the infection (and not only after a few weeks, as was previously thought) are infectious to the fetus. This infectivity can persist for years because it is a transplacental infection and the treponemen, also in the late phase, remain present in the body. It is true that the vertical transmission probability gradually decreases and is virtually no longer present after about eight years. So could occur congenital syphilis, which can cause abortion or intrauterine fetal death, or serious and sometimes lethal congenital anomalies. Breastfeeding is not contagious unless active syphilitic lesions in the breast.


There are several times controversial experiments performed on individuals in order to investigate the effects of untreated syphilis. Two well-known examples are the Guatemalan syphilis experiment (1946-1948) and the Tuskegee syphilis study in the United States (1932-1972).

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