What is syphilis?
Syphilis is more than just a strange sounding word. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria.
How is it spread?
It is spread by contact with sores, rashes or body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid, blood) during vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Is it dangerous?
It can be dangerous if not caught in the early stages. In fact, if left untreated, it can cause damage to many body systems and even cause death. Having syphilis can make you more likely to be infected with other STIs, including HIV. Syphilis in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, serious birth defects, as well as death of the newborn.
Is it here in Saskatoon?
Yes. Infections occurred in both males and females between the ages of 20 - 45 years.
What are the signs?
The signs may not be noticed. If left untreated, it will progress through different stages:
Primary (1st) Stage:
Several weeks to 3 months after infection, a painless sore(s) called a chancre (SHAN - ker) may occur at the site where the bacteria entered your body, usually the genitals, anus or mouth. The sore(s) will go away, but you are still infected.
Secondary (2nd) Stage:
About 6 weeks or longer after the sore(s) appear, you may feel like you have the flu, along with a rash on the hands, feet or trunk of the body. Patchy hair loss might also occur. These symptoms will eventually go away on their own, but you are still infected.
Latent (silent) Stage:
Around one year after getting infected there may still be no visible signs. You may not be able to pass it onto someone else, but you are still infected. Some people may remain in this stage for many years, or move on to the third stage.
Tertiary (3rd) Stage:
Within 10 - 30 years, about 1/3 of infected people may have damage to the:
- blood vessels
- liver, bones and joints
- Or even death
Is there a cure?
If syphilis is caught early, it can be easily treated with medicine. The treatment is free and will be arranged with you by a public health nurse.