Syphilis (TP)

Treponema pallidum

What is Treponema Pallidum?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by Treponema Pallidum. The incubation period of syphilis varies from 9 to 90 days. Infection can be transmitted by direct sexual contact, from infected mother to her baby during pregnancy and other non-sexual contact methods such as sharing needles. Nowadays, most of the syphilis infected patients are contracted through sexual contact.

What are the symptoms of Syphilis?

Patients with untreated syphilis will present different features at different stages.

1. Primary syphilis

Most cases present symptoms in 2-4 weeks after exposure. The main symptom is chancre, which is a painless sore on genital area. The sore may be obvious in men, but remain inconspicuous in women if it is situated deep inside the vagina. Even if it is left untreated, the painless sore will heal by itself giving a false impression of cure.

2. Secondary syphilis

After the appearance of chancre for 6-8 weeks, infected patients will have wide-spread and symmetrical skin rashes. Palms and soles are commonly involved. Infected patients may have malaise, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, alopecia, mucous membrane lesions or appearance of warty growth change. These symptoms will subside gradually.

3. Latent Stage

Patients are asymptomatic in latent stage syphilis. The disease can only be diagnosed by blood test.

4. Late syphilis

Late syphilis may occur a few years to decades after the initial infection. Heart, eyes and central nervous system will be affected resulting in blindness, cardiovascular diseases, neurological and mental illness, physical disability and even death.

Is syphilis curable?

Syphilis is curable. It is important to seek early medical advice and treatment if you suspect you have been infected with syphilis. The partner(s) should also seek prompt treatment to avoid cross-reciprocal infection. Abstinence from sexual activity before full treatment and recovery of yourself and your partner(s) from syphilis is strongly advised.