A major sexually transmitted disease, that is on the increase in today's society, that at one time threatened the European Nations with extinction.
Syphilis is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacterium.
It is ALWAYS transmitted through sexual means, which means that unless you never have sex, you can be infected by this disease, that is CURABLE, providing you KNOW you are infected.
Infection occurs through contact between the Syphilis Sores, usually found in the Anus, Vagina, Genitals, as well as the Lips and Mouth.
Symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses, or diseases, and only proper testing can determine the presence of the disease. It is an inexpensive test, and should be REGULARLY taken.
Syphilis is known as The Great Imitator because its symptoms are also associated with many other more common ailments. It is one vital reason why regular testing for sexually active males is a key defense in fighting off this disease.
If left untreated, to where it develops into a Stage 3 form, it can seriously effect one's quality of life, or even risk one's life. Yet in Stage 1 or 2, is a relatively easily corrected medical condition.
Stage 1 is characterized by the appearance of a sore, generally called a chancre. It is not always visible, either, again proving the need for testing. It can appear as any other sore, commonly mistaken for just that.
It can take from 10 to 90 days to appear, usually at the point of infection. If one engages in anal sex, one may not even notice its appearance. The average time for it to appear is about 21 days.
The disappearance of the sore DOES NOT MEAN THE INFECTION HAS GONE. The original sore can dissipate, usually does in fact, while the disease remains active within the body.
The sore is usually round, painless and red in color. It may or may not be very noticeable. Usually it can last for 3 to 6 weeks, before appearing to naturally disappear. It's disappearance usually means the disease is then progressing to Stage 2, unless treated.
Stage 2 is often shown when a rash occurs on the palms or the bottom of one's feet. It is usually a rough red, or reddish brown color, and generally does not cause itching. It can appear while the chancre sore from Stage 1 is healing, or disappearing, but not always.
Other rashes may appear as well, on other body parts, again in different forms, nor will it be itchy. It can be like a mild irritant rash one gets from soaps, perfumes, or other items. Again, why this illness is noted as being a Great Imitator. It is deceptive, in that in the first two stages, it doesn't appear to pose any painful problems, and if untreated, does seem to disappear.
Other symptoms that may appear at the Stage 2 level, is fatigue, weight loss, sore throats, headaches, small patches of hair loss, swollen lymph glands, fever.
These effects can disappear, but the disease has not gone. Again it is treatable, if one is diagnosed early enough. If untreated, the disease will progress to Stage 3.
Stage 3 is the most difficult stage to deal with. It begins when a person remains untreated after the disease has run through the first two stages. It can remain dormant for years, and in about 15% of those infected, can remain dormant internally until it begins to show up in other, more serious illness.
This can include muscle joint problems, coordination, mental disorders including dementia, liver, kidney problems. Untreated it can seriously effect the eyes, causing eventual blindness, can effect the nerves, even the brain. It can lead to death as well, and it can effect one's ability to move, to feel, and other serious complications.
The earliest documented case is the siege of Naples in 1494. It is believed that the French brought the disease to the region, which resulted in a wide spread epidemic, that threatened all of Europe.
People were said to experience lesions, or sores, from head to toe, with chunks of flesh falling off from being diseased. It also led to death, over a short period of time.
It took until about 1546 before the disease mutated to its present form, with the symptoms we now know. It also is less fatal, though if left untreated, can still be lethal.
History (Legend): There are 3 basic theories of how Syphilis first came about.
One is the Pre Columbian Theory which claims that this illness was described in Ancient Greek times by Hippocrates. Skeleton remains of ancient times claim to show remains of the Syphilis Sores, though in some instances it is disputed. Some of them are remains from Pompeii, Metaponto, dated prior to the Columbian times.
Another theory, known as the Columbian Exchange Theory is where the disease is attributed to the exploration of the New World, and that the explorers contracted this disease there, bringing it back to the Old World with them.
This theory is supported by linking the Naples outbreak of 1494 to sailor from Columbus, who journeyed to the New World. In addition, there is evidence of such a disease present in Native Skeletal Remains that predate the arrival of the Explorers.
The third theory, is the Combination Theory, which accepts both theories as being plausible. It claims that the disease may have traveled to the New World by the traverse of people over the now gone land bridge that connected the New World with the Old.
Syphilis is contracted through sexual contact, between one infected person and another. It can be from oral sex, anal sex, vagina sex, or of the exchange of bodily fluid.
Infection occurs when the infected person, who has sores, comes into contact with another. So if one has a Syphilis Sore on their genitals, and does not use proper precautions like a condom, and has anal or vaginal sex, they can transmit the disease by just that contact.
Kissing or sucking on a penis when a sore is present on the lips or in the mouth, can also transmit the disease.
Practice (Associated Acts): You cannot get Syphilis from contact with a dirty toilet seat, in hot tubs, pools, or other public facilities. It requires direct contact between yourself, and another, who is infected with Syphilis, usually noted by Sores in the Anus, on the Genitals, or on the lips or inside the mouth.
Noteworthy: Genital sores, caused by an infection of Syphilis can increase a person's risk of gaining HIV by 2 to 5 fold.
Use of a condom with Nonoxynol 9 (N-9) is NOT recommended for protection against the transmission or reception of the Syphilis disease. In fact the CDC recommends using other types of condoms with spermacide, than those containing N-9.
Syphilis can recur, or at least the infection can recur if proper precautions aren't taken during one's sexual activities. Proper use of a condom is safest choice, if one must engage in sex. Abstinence is still pushed as the best defense against STD's like Syphilis. Unrealistic for most, but a consideration for some.
To those engaging in any sexual activity, it is important to be regularly tested for STD's like Syphilis, as there is treatment.
TREATMENT - For those who have been infected for less than year, a single shot of Penicillin is usually effective. It is done inter muscular, and while painful, it is a one off pain, which is a lot better than going blind, or becoming wheelchair bound.
Those who have been infected for longer than a year, it may require two or more additional injections of a proper antibiotic to eliminate the disease. Again a lot better than the consequences of leaving it untreated.
If infected or diagnosed with Syphilis, that person must inform their sexual partners, as well as encourage they seek proper testing for the disease.
Testing is a simple, inexpensive blood test, and for those who are sexually active, should be a common part of their medical health routine. Testing for these diseases on a regular basis, can insure that treatment is received in a timely manner, BEFORE the disease can do irreparable harm to one's health.
The overall increase in Syphilis was among MEN, with man to man sex being attributed to being the highest level of increases, according to the CDC studies.
Some notable persons believed to have suffered from Syphilis are: King Charles VIII of France, Franz Schubert, Adolph Hitler, Lenin, Ivan the Terrible, Al Capone, Idi Amin, King Edward VI, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde, Hugo Wolfe, Van Gough.