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Syphilis

Syphilis Overview

Syphilis (pronounced SIF-uh-lus) is a sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria. The highly infectious disease may also be passed, but much less often, through blood transfusions or from mother to fetus in the womb. Without treatment, syphilis can cause irreversible damage to the brain, nerves, and body tissues.

The symptoms of syphilis can mimic many diseases. Sir William Osler stated, "The physician who knows syphilis knows medicine."

Syphilis Causes

Patient Comments

Syphilis is an infectious disease, usually sexually transmitted, disease caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. The bacteria penetrate chafed skin or the mucous membranes.

  • Transmission most often occurs when one person comes into contact with lesions on an infected person through sexual activity.
  • Men are more vulnerable to contracting syphilis than women.
  • The active disease is found most often among men and women aged 15-39 years.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/14/2015
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Syphilis:

Syphilis - Causes

What caused your syphilis?

Syphilis - Symptoms

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Syphilis - Treatments

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Man and woman in bed

Syphilis Symptoms in Women

What are the Symptoms?

There are three stages of syphilis, along with an inactive (latent) stage. Formation of an ulcer (chancre) is the first stage. The chancre develops any time from 10 to 90 days after infection, with an average time of 21 days following infection until the first symptoms develop. Syphilis is highly contagious when the ulcer is present.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Syphilis »

Syphilis is a venereal disease caused by infection with the spirochete Treponema pallidum.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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