Most people barely know one, let alone 5 facts about syphilis, which is why this easily-treated sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD) continues to spread about. Prevent this creepy-crawly cootie from attacking by learning these nifty facts.
- Bacterially Yours: The syphilis STI comes from a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. This infection can be sexually transmitted through the mucous membranes in the genitals, or it can infect by coming into contact with broken skin anywhere on the body. Syphilis can also infect an unborn child developing in the womb if the mother is infected.
- Hot For The Twentysomethings: Quick fact? Syphilis is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 29. One of its ironic nicknames is "Cupid's disease."
- Three stages: 2 to 3 weeks after coming in contact, the first stage of syphilis begins. The victim develops painless sores (called chancres) at the site of infection. These may go unnoticed if they are in the genital region, and will disappear about 4 to 6 weeks later. About 33 percent of people infected will not overcome syphilis in the first stage and will experience stage 2: this is when syphilis is most contagious, and it gets into the bloodstream. There may be side effects like a rash, warty growths on the genitals, fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes. If this goes untreated, then the third stage of syphilis begins, and your heart, nervous system and brain get damaged. If syphilis hits your brain, you may go insane.
- Easily killed: If your immune system can't kill syphilis, then simple antibiotics will. Symptoms will disappear within 24 hours of treatment. If it goes untreated for a very long time, however, and enters the third stage, then the damage to the heart and nervous system might be permanent. The brain damage might be permanent too.
- On The Record: If a doctor diagnoses and treats syphilis, he or she is required by law to report it to the public health authorities, so that any partners you had can be found, notified and treated if necessary. You can avoid this permanent public embarrassment, for the most part, by using a condom.
National Institutes of Health: Syphilis