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  • Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum.


  • Affects both men and women, with a higher prevalence in men who have sex with men.
  • Can be transmitted via sexual contact, from mother to fetus (congenital syphilis), and, rarely, through blood transfusion.

Stages of Syphilis:

  1. Primary Syphilis:
    • Characterized by a painless ulcer (chancre) at the site of infection.
    • Occurs 3 weeks after exposure.
  2. Secondary Syphilis:
    • Systemic spread of the bacterium.
    • Symptoms include rash (often affects palms and soles), mucous membrane lesions, fever, lymphadenopathy.
  3. Latent Syphilis:
    • Asymptomatic phase.
    • Early latent syphilis is within the first year of infection; late latent is beyond one year.
  4. Tertiary Syphilis:
    • Occurs years to decades after the initial infection.
    • Can affect multiple organ systems, including neurosyphilis, cardiovascular syphilis, and gummatous syphilis.

Congenital Syphilis:

  • Transmission from mother to fetus.
  • Can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe neonatal infection.


  • Non-treponemal serological tests (VDRL, RPR) for screening.
  • Treponemal tests (FTA-ABS, TPPA) for confirmation.
  • Darkfield microscopy can detect the bacterium in primary and secondary syphilis.


  • Primary, secondary, and early latent syphilis: Single dose of intramuscular benzathine penicillin G.
  • Late latent and tertiary syphilis: Three weekly doses of intramuscular benzathine penicillin G.
  • Neurosyphilis: Intravenous penicillin G for 10-14 days.
  • Alternative antibiotics for penicillin-allergic patients include doxycycline and azithromycin.


  • Safe sex practices, including condom use.
  • Screening and treatment of sexual partners.
  • Prenatal screening to prevent congenital syphilis.

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