Overview

Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact. The disease starts as a painless sore — typically on your genitals, rectum or mouth. Syphilis spreads from person to person via skin or mucous membrane contact with these sores.

After the initial infection, the syphilis bacteria can lie dormant in your body for decades before becoming active again. Early syphilis can be cured, sometimes with a single injection of penicillin. Without treatment, syphilis can severely damage your heart, brain or other organs, and can be life-threatening, or be passed from mother to an unborn child.

Aug. 17, 2016
References
  1. Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  2. Hicks CB, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and treatment of early syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Syphilis. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  4. Hicks CB. Diagnostic testing for syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases: Treatment guidelines 2015. MMWR. 2015;64:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6403a1.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  6. Partner services FAQs for the public and consumers of partner services activities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/partners/faq-public.html. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  7. Syphilis – 2015 sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/syphilis.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.