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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Syphilis

According to the Center for Disease Control or CDC, the definition of syphilis states that it’s an STD caused by the bacterium called Treponema pallidum. There’s another term for syphilis which is called the “great imitator” because it takes on characteristics of the signs and symptoms of other diseases. There was a brief segment on an episode of Scrubs on May 3rd, 2007 about syphilis.

Carla and Elliot were testing these two elderly people. They talked about having some symptoms but Carla and Elliot continously kept running tests but they came out negative for any sorts of diseases. However, Dr. Cox ran one more test and discovered that they both had syphilis. Then Dr. Cox added that the elderly are having more sex than ever much to Carla and Elliot’s disgust which is why the rate of contracting STDs is at a much accelerating rate amongst the elderly. But the segment explained how syphilis can mimic symptoms of other diseases.

The ways one can catch syphilis is that it can be passed from person to person by direct contact with a syphilis sore. It says that the sores occur mainly on the external genitals, vagina, anus, or in the rectum. By oral sex, the sores can also occur on the lips and mouth. Meaning if you kiss someone with the sours on their mouth, you’re going to contract syphilis from that person.

Unfortunately, pregnant females that have syphilis can spread this disease onto the babies they are carrying. Luckily, the disease cannot be spread through contact through inanimate objects such as doorknobs, swimming pools, hot tubs, bathtubs, showers, shared clothing, eating utensils, and what not.

Surprisingly, it said that many people with syphilis won’t develop any symptoms for year. Meaning once you develop symptoms, it’ll be too late. Most people tend to be unaware of their infection. That was proven in that episode of Scrubs with the two elderly patients being diagnosed with the STD in the tests Dr. Cox ran.

The stages are listed and explained by the CDC:

“Primary Stage

The primary stage of syphilis is usually marked by the appearance of a single sore (called a chancre), but there may be multiple sores. The time between infection with syphilis and the start of the first symptom can range from 10 to 90 days (average 21 days). The chancre is usually firm, round, small, and painless. It appears at the spot where syphilis entered the body. The chancre lasts 3 to 6 weeks, and it heals without treatment. However, if adequate treatment is not administered, the infection progresses to the secondary stage.

Secondary Stage

Skin rash and mucous membrane lesions characterize the secondary stage. This stage typically starts with the development of a rash on one or more areas of the body. The rash usually does not cause itching. Rashes associated with secondary syphilis can appear as the chancre is healing or several weeks after the chancre has healed. The characteristic rash of secondary syphilis may appear as rough, red, or reddish brown spots both on the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet. However, rashes with a different appearance may occur on other parts of the body, sometimes resembling rashes caused by other diseases. Sometimes rashes associated with secondary syphilis are so faint that they are not noticed. In addition to rashes, symptoms of secondary syphilis may include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue. The signs and symptoms of secondary syphilis will resolve with or without treatment, but without treatment, the infection will progress to the latent and late stages of disease.

Late Stage

The latent (hidden) stage of syphilis begins when secondary symptoms disappear. Without treatment, the infected person will continue to have syphilis even though there are no signs or symptoms; infection remains in the body. In the late stages of syphilis, it may subsequently damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. This internal damage may show up many years later. Signs and symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. This damage may be serious enough to cause death.”
The stages alone are motivation to get treated for this condition. But once people realize they have syphilis, in most cases it’s already in the secondary and late stages. The late stages of syphilis isn’t pretty. Because your body can get screwed up so badly that it will cease to function. As explained.

Like many STDs, pregnant females can pass it off to their children. Babies born with syphilis may be born without showing the signs and symptoms of this disease. But they still have to be treated immeidately. If not, they can possibly develop the symptoms in a matter of weeks. Is said that if not treated, they can be delayed in their mental development, be diagnosed with epilepsy which is having seizures, and possible death.

Doctors can test for this disease by examining the material from the chancre or infectious sore using a dark-field microscope. If it’s present, it’ll show up. Another method for getting a diagnosis is through a blood test because after the immediate infection, syphilis antibodies are produced. Luckily, blood tests are safe, accurate, and relatively inexpensive. But it says that the antibodies can stay in the blood for awhile after a successful treatment. Pregnant females have to be very weary because those antibodies can infect the child.

Frighteningly, getting syphilis increases your chances of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse.

However, syphilis is treatable but not curable. Meaning you can still get the infection. But you have to get treated quickly. Less than a year, a single injection of penicillin. If longer than a year, you need a few more injections. Keep in mind that there will be people allergic to penicilin. If that’s the case, other antibiotics are available. Another important thing to know that no over the counter drugs nor home remedy will cure the condition. But with the damage already done, treatment won’t help.

Get tested for STDs regularly if you’re sexually active. Protection will reduce the risk of getting an STD. However, it’s not going to protect you from contracting syphilis. If you’re feeling a sour in the groin area or having an unusual discharge, get medical help immediately.

The report says that the cases of syphilis has been climbing since 2002. Primary and secondary cases occurred in persons 20-39 years of age. Syphilis amongst homosexual partners seem to be escalating as well. So it shows that contracting syphilis is becoming more common .

Interestingly, the condition has been around for centuries with the first well-recorded outbreak starting before the start of the 16th century with German troops invading Italy and besieging Naples. Some alleged figures to have syphilis were Hernado Cortez, JFK, Mussolini, Lenin, Hitler, and Nietzche.

There are three theories on where the STD contracted from. It’s still up for debate in the fields of anthropology and history.

For more information visit these sites:

Center for Disease Control
http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm

American Social Health Association
http://www.ashastd.org