Is syphilis truly a sexually transmitted disease that comes from the long lost past of human history? When we think of the negative effects of syphilis, we might be directed towards examining many famous cases from the past. Numerous historical figures have succumbed to the dreaded disease.
Impressions of this nature are not entirely accurate. Yes, there have been many legendary cases of historical figures suffering from syphilis. However, the notion that the disease remains a problem lost to history is woefully inaccurate.
Syphilis infects tens of thousands of people throughout the globe. If not treated properly and in time, very serious and adverse health effects can occur.
To help those better understand the problem of syphilis, it is worth looking closer at a few facts about the condition as well as clearly defining the different types of syphilis.
What is Syphilis?
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease. The disease derives from the spreading of the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The disease is highly contagious and sexual contact is the most common way it is spread.
Usually, open sores contribute to the spread of the disease. That said, it is not impossible for close, nonsexual body contact to spread it.
Basic Facts About Syphilis
It is believed that 55,400 people in the United State contract syphilis from sexual contact. The number is actually far less than other forms of sexually transmitted diseases. Also, the number is far lower than the epidemic levels the disease reached in the 1940’s.
Granted, 50,000+ infections per year is still serious. That number would likely be higher if people were not aware of safe sex practices that help reduce the transmission of STDs.
The main stigma surrounding syphilis results from its notorious history as a dire threat to public health. Prior to the discovery of antibiotic treatments for syphilis, the bacteria could ravage the human body causing serious medical issues such as blindness or even brain damage.
Now, the benefits of an antibiotic can only be acquired if you take it. A person suffering from syphilis that is never treated will experience terrible complications as the disease ravages through his body.
The Way In Which Syphilis Is Transmitted
Once again, the common way syphilis is transmitted is through sexual contact when one party is infected with the disease. There are long standing myths that the disease can be spread on toilet seats or even via swimming pools.
These myths are just that….myths. It is unfortunately true though that syphilis can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her baby.
Syphilis can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex contact. Direct contact with the sores associated with syphilis would be the way the bacteria goes from one person to another. These sores can appear on the genitals, rectum and mouth.
The Types of Syphilis
There are four different types of syphilis and they are defined by their stages. Each stage will have its own unique symptoms.
Primary Stage Syphilis
The arrival of sores on the skin at the location where the syphilis entered the body will be the first sign of infection. Often, the presence of a single sore will be the indicator. Since there is only one, painless sore, the problem might not end up even being noticed.
The sore can heal after six weeks and, once it is gone, few will even think much of it. The problem here is that while the sore is gone, the actual condition of syphilis remains. The problem will assuredly worsen if treatment is not undertaken.
This is where the symptoms of the disease become far more pronounced and troubling. Skin rashes will break out and they can be severe. The rashes will be on the anus, genitals or mouth region.
The rash may spread to other areas of the body and present large white lesions. Scores of flu-like symptoms may emerge as well. Needless to say, this stage of syphilis could prove to be very physically and mentally difficult to deal with.
Stage 3 – Latent Stage
At this stage, all the symptoms of syphilis go away but the disease and its bacteria remains.
Stage 4 – Tertiary Syphilis
This is the final stage and it proves the lack of symptoms during the latent stage is not a sign of wellness. At this stage, serious organ damage can occur. One might even suffer from mental dementia.
Without treatment during the earlier stages, syphilis will progress to this life-threatening stage.
To help ensure you do not suffer from this or any other serious STD, it is best to have a comprehensive STD test performed if you are sexual active.