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Syphilis is on the increase across Yorkshire - our colleagues at MESMAC have produced a video for you to watch and find out everything you need to know about it.

(original source:

 What is it?

Syphillis is a chronic, infectious, sexually transmitted disease. It begins in the mucous membranes and quickly becomes systemic, meaning it spreads in the bloodstream. If untreated it progresses in four stages: Primary, Secondary, Latent, and Late. Incidence of syphillis is on the rise especially between ages 15 and 39, drug users, and people with HIV.

How is it spread?

Syphillis is spread primarily through sexual contact and from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. Getting it from a blood transfusion is rare because the bacteria dies after 96 hours in stored blood.

How do I know if I'm infected?

If you think you may have been exposed to syphillis you should see your doctor. A simple blood test is available. Cultures can also be obtained from ulcers and lesions.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms occur in four stages:

During the first stage, the Primary stage, painless ulcers called chancres occur on the genitalia, anus, fingers, lips, tongue, tonsils or eyelids. Women may develop chancres on the cervix or vaginal wall. The chancres usually heal after 3 to 6 weeks even when untreated.

The Secondary stage begins within a few days or up to 8 weeks after the ulcers appear. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, appetite and weight loss, sore throat and slight fever. A rash can occur on arms, palms, soles, face and scalp. Drainage that occurs from this rash is highly contagious. Some people experience hair loss.

In the Latent stage, physical signs and symptoms are usually absent. The rash may reoccur during this stage.

In the Late stage, symptoms depend on which organs the disease has invaded. If it has invaded the nervous system, headache, dizziness, sleeplessness, seizures and psychosis may develop. Lesions, called gummas, may occur on the skin, bones or any body organ. These lesions are usually painless but can be disfiguring. Syphillis can also affect the heart and kidneys.

How is it treated?

Syphillis is treated with antibiotics.

How can I protect myself?

Condoms, when used properly, can prevent the transmission of syphillis.