Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria which is spread through direct contact with sores/lesions or the blood of an infected person.  Maternal-fetal transmission is another way syphilis can be transmitted.  Syphilis has three distinct stages and treatment depends on the stage of syphilis in which you are diagnosed.


Primary stage symptoms include:

Usually a single chancre(painless ulcer) appears where the bacteria entered the body.  Since it is painless sometimes the chancre goes unnoticed.  The chancre will resolve by itself without treatment, if left untreated the infection will progress to the secondary stage.

Secondary stage symptoms include:

A rash usually on the palms of hands and soles of feet with swollen lymph nodes is characteristic of the second stage.  If left untreated syphilis will progress to the third stage.

Late stage symptoms:

Untreated syphilis may be silent for many years.  It can progress to central nervous system symptoms includin:  difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness and/or dementia.  Syphilis can cause serious disability and even death.


Syphilis is detected by testing sores and with blood tests.

Pregnant women can pass syphilis on to their babies in utero, causing sickness and sometimes death. Therefore, the CDC recommends that all pregnant women get tested for the disease.


Syphilis is treated with antibiotics.


The CDC recommends the correct and consistent use of latex condoms to reduce the spread of STDs.