Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria. Rarely, syphilis can be spread by other means, such as in the blood by sharing needles to inject drugs. Pregnant women with syphilis can pass the infection to their babies.
If syphilis is not treated in an early stage, symptoms may go away but the infection is still in the body. This is called latent syphilis. Later, the disease can turn into what is called late (or tertiary) syphilis. Late syphilis can damage different parts of the body, including the heart, nerves, and eyes. It can cause death.
Treatment with antibiotics will kill the bacteria and may prevent further damage. You will need blood tests after treatment to make sure that the syphilis bacteria have been killed. You also may need treatment for problems caused by syphilis. During the first 24 hours of treatment, you may have a fever, a headache, and muscle aches.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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