Find out more about Syphilis on this page.

How is Syphilis Transmitted?

Syphilis is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum, and is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact with an infected person usually through oral sex, anal sex or penile-vaginal sex.

Primary and secondary syphilis affects approximately 20,000 each year. Congenital syphilis occurs in about 1 in 10,000 pregnancies.

What are the symptoms?

Primary syphilis begins as a painless ulcer (sore) at the site of exposure, which includes oral, anal, penile or vaginal tissues.

 Secondary syphilis may present as a skin rash, fleshy growths on the skin, swollen lymph glands or hair loss, among other signs. This stage of the disease is difficult to diagnose by symptoms alone. The latent stage has no symptoms.

How is Syphilis diagnosed?

A blood test can be done which will help diagnose syphilis.


The type and length of treatment depends on the stage of the disease. An antibiotic can be given as treatment.  


Latent syphilis and congenital syphilis are preventable with early diagnosis and treatment.

Complications include permanent damage to the nervous system and cardiovascular system.

If you think you are infected, avoid sexual contact, and see a health care provider immediately. If you are told you are infected, notify all your sex partners immediately. Do not have sex until you and your partner complete the syphilis drug treatment.

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