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 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.
Last Reviewed 12/14/2015
Scott E Rudkin, MD, MBA, RDMS
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Must Read Articles Related to Syphilis
Female Sexual Problems
Long considered a taboo subject, women's sexuality is now openly discussed and portrayed on television, in magazines, and on the internet. Symptoms of female se...learn more >>
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of a woman's reproductive organs (learn more >>
Proctitis is an inflammation of the anus rectal lining. Symptoms include:
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Syphilis: