Syphilis is caused by which bacteria?

Syphilis is caused by an elongated and motile bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Firstly, it enters host tissue by breaking the epithelium. Syphilis include a lot of symptoms.

Syphilis is caused by bacteria which has following structure:

Bacteria that causes syphilis is thin , flat and wavy bacteria with tapering ends. It can move backward and forward as well as can bend its whole body.

Bacteria is 10μm long and 0.1-0.2μm wide.


Syphilis is a common disease that is caused by a bacteria through sexual contact. As few as 60 bacteria can cause the infection.

Syphilis is caused by which bacteria
Syphilis. Historical medical illustration showing annular secondary syphilis lesions on the neck and shoulders of two female patients. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The disease has three stages, first an ulcer (known as a chancre) at the site of infection, followed several weeks later by a systemic skin rash. The third stage, which follows a latency period that can last for years, involves spread to the organs and nervous system and can cause mental illness and death. From Atlas of Venereal and Skin Diseases by Prince Albert Morrow, published in 1889.

Incubation period of syphilis is 10-90 days. Syphilis is also caused by Nesseria Gonorrhea which is a bacteria too.

There are 3 stages of syphilis:-

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary

Congenital syphilis

Congenital syphilis is a disease that occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy.

It can occur at any stage of pregnancy.

Symptoms of syphilis:

The symptoms of syphilis may vary according to the stages.

Primary Syphilis

The symptoms of primary syphilis include:

  •  A small, painless primary lesion called chancre is formed.
  • Also, chancre is covered by a thick, lesions which is very rich in bacteria.
  • Common sites of infection are genitalia, mouth and nipples.
  •  As well as regional lymph nodes also swell.

Secondary Syphilis

The symptoms of secondary syphilis include:

  • Rose-colored rashes , mucus patches appears in the pharynx and oral region.
  • sore throat.
  • fever.
  •  similarly, swollen lymph glands
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • muscle aches
  • wart-like patches around skin folds or genitals.
  • Also, loss of appetite.

Tertiary Syphilis

The symptoms of tertiary syphilis include:

  • meningitis.
  • strokes.
  • dementia symptoms.
  • loss of co-ordination.
  • numbness.
  • vision problems or blindness.
  • heart problems.

Complications arises due to syphilis:

The complications that can arise due to syphilis are:

  •  Bumps and tumor  appear in the last stage
  • Neurological conditions for example Stroke, Meningitis, Dementia
  • Problem with Cardiovascular system
  • Likewise, HIV and AIDS
  • Pregnancy and childbirth issues

Transmission of syphilis:

  • Transmission of syphilis can still occur during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
  • Also, direct contact with syphilitic sore, known as a chancre.

Diagnosis of syphilis:

Syphilis is diagnoses by the following ways:

  1. Physical examination
  2. Blood test
  3. Lumbar puncture – A procedure to collect cerebral spinal fluid sample
  4. ELISA

Treatment of syphilis:

Following antibiotics are used for the treatment of syphilis:

  • Benzathine penicillin G
  • Erythromycin
  • Tetracycline
  • Cefriaxone( antibiotics)

Latent syphilis:

Latent syphilis is a stage of infection where no symptoms appear but laboratory diagnosis test come positive.

But it occurs after the secondary lesions disappear.

Diagnosis of Latent Syphilis:

Latent syphilis is only diagnosed by performing different serological test however no symptoms are seen during this period.

Preventive Measures of syphilis:

  • Avoid of sexual contact with diseased individual.
  • Use physical barriers and antiseptics.
  • Prompt and adequate treatment of all new cases.
  •  Also, maintain hygiene to prevent the cause of syphilis.

Parts of body where syphilis occurs:

Syphilis  can occur at the external genitals, in the vagina, around the anus , or in the rectum, or in or around the mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What happens when syphilis left untreated?

However we should consult to doctor if we have syphilis.

On the other hand, if syphilis left untreated, bacteria reaches to vital organs of the body such as brain, lungs, etc through blood stream.

If bacteria reaches brain through blood it can cause menengitis.

What is transfusion syphilis?

Syphilis which is acquired by unsafe blood transfusion.

However, in this kind of syphilis primary chancre does not occur.

Which medicine should be given to the person who is allergic to penicillin?

Erythromycin, Tetracycline, etc are the antibiotics that we can give to the patient allergic to penicillin.

Also read:How Malaria is diagnoses?

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