Syphilis

Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Another sexually transmitted disease which is increasing in incidence is syphilis. This is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum and goes to three stages of infection. The primary stage is characterised by a painless ulcerated chancre, which can be anywhere at the site of entry, including the soft palate, tonsils or tongue. The chancre is usually associated with localised lymph gland enlargement which is painless.

The secondary stage is associated with patches of ulceration in the mucus membranes with silvery painless erosions and raised red edges. At this stage, the patient may also complain of a sore throat.

The tertiary stage of syphilis can occur many years later and produces lesions called gumma. These are firm tumour-like masses which can occur in all parts of the body, including the oral cavity. Ultimately, the brain can be affected in the tertiary stage. Treatment at the first stage with Penicillin is effective.

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