By Dr. U.C.Shanghvi, Sexology
Syphilis spreads primarily through sexual activity such as anal or oral sex and is a highly contagious disease that may even be transferred through prolonged close bodily contact. However, this disease is often passed unknowingly from one source to another, and may often also spread from sores, though it often goes unrecognized. Contrary to popular belief, syphilis cannot be transmitted through hot tubs, bathtubs, shared clothing or toilet seats.
Early Stage: This will lead to the development of one or multiple sores (usually painless ulcers) in and around the genitals and the mouth.
Secondary Stage: The onset of this stage is marked by symptoms like reddish rashes, typically on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand. Other conditions may also include moist warts in and around the groin, fever, weight loss and swollen lymph glands.
Latent Syphilis: In this condition, the infection remains in a dormant state and often doesn’t manifest any symptoms.
Tertiary Syphilis: The final stage, this may often lead to several severe problems, which can adversely affect the brain, heart and nerves, resulting in blindness, dementia, paralysis and deafness.
Causes: The chief cause of syphilis is a type of bacteria known as ‘Treponema pallidum’, most often transmitted through contact – especially with an affected person’s sores during sexual activity. The bacterium may also enter your body through abrasions or cuts on the skin.
Though less common, syphilis may also be transmitted through close contact to an active lesion, (while kissing), or may be passed from a mother who has been affected to her baby while pregnant (called congenital syphilis).
While chances of syphilis recurrence is very low, it may happen that a person may get affected again if he/she comes in contact with an open sore. Hence, it is necessary to take appropriate precautions in this regard.