long been a global health issue affecting millions of people.
Through the centuries, it’s had many names, including the
“great pox” and “great crippler.” Penicillin treatment
is credited with decades of decline in syphilis cases, but
infection rates are on the rise. A recent report by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s an
infection increase among women and their newborns, and men who
have sex with men.
Syphilis is a
sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium
Treponema pallidum. Dr. Stacey Rizza, an infectious diseases
specialist at Mayo Clinic, says syphilis affects men and women
— and can present in various stages.
syphilis causes an ulcer, and this sometimes isn’t noticed
because it’s painless and can be inside the vagina or on the
cervix. After a few weeks, two months, (it can become)
secondary syphilis, which is a rash.”
It may then
progress to latent-stage syphilis and, finally, the most
serious stage: tertiary
are not immune to syphilis. Congenital syphilis can lead to
miscarriage, stillbirth or infant deaths. That’s why all
pregnant women should be screened.
preventable and treatable. Since the 1940s, penicillin has
been the best treatment. As for prevention, Rizza recommends
barrier protection during sex — including oral, anal and