DISEASE OF THE WEEK....SYPHILIS.
WHAT IS SYPHILIS- Syphilis is an extremely contagious disease spread primarily by sexual activity. Sometimes the disease can be passed on to another person by prolonged kissing or very close body contact. The disease is spread via sores but the vast majority of these sores can go unrecognised. Unfortunately the infected person is usually not aware of the disease present in their system & can unknowingly pass it on to their sexual partner. There are three distinct stages of syphilis, primary, secondary, latent & tertiary. The disease CANNOT be spread by toilet seats, bath tubs, swimming pools, door knobs, clothing or eating utensils.
BIT OF HISTORY- Syphilis was once a serious health threat. There were no effective treatments for the disease until the antibiotic penicillin was developed by Alexander Fleming in 1928. The disease was a major problem during war time throughout the centuries. A new epidemic of a terrible disease broke out amongst the soldiers of Charles VIII of France, this epidemic was syphilis aka the “great pox”.
STAGES OF SYPHILIS/ PRIMARY- People with primary syphilis will develop one or more sores which are usually small & painless ulcers. They come up on the genitals or in or around the mouth around 10-90 days after being exposed. They heal without a scar within 6wks even without having had treatment.
SECONDARY STAGE- The secondary stage begins within 6wks to 6mths after being exposed & can last up to 1-3mths. People at this stage get a rosy coloured rash usually on the palms or soles of the feet. They can also experience warts on the inside of the groin, white patches on the inside of the mouth, fever, swollen lymph glands or weight loss. Like primary syphilis, secondary syphilis also resolves itself without any treatment.
LATENT STAGE- this is the stage where the infection is inactive 7 lies dormant without causing any symptoms.
TERTIARY STAGE- by this stage if the infection isn’t treated then it can progress to a stage where severe problems with the heart, brain & nerves can occur. This can cause paralysis, blindness, dementia, deafness, impotence & even death.
TREATMENT- If you’ve been infected with syphilis for less than a year then a single dose of penicillin is usually enough to kill off the infection. If allergic to penicillin, tetracycline or doxycycline can be given instead. If you’re at the later stages of infection, then more doses are needed.
SYPHILIS & PREGNANCY- If a pregnant woman is infected with syphilis, depending on how long she’s been infected then she has a high chance of having a stillbirth or a baby who dies shortly after birth. If not treated immediately, an infected baby may be born without symptoms but can develop them within a few weeks. This can be extremely serious, untreated babies can become developmentally delayed, experience seizures or even die.
Stay safe everyone & stay informed!
Love Lexi XXX