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STD Facts: Focus on Syphilis

Syphilis in Wyoming is on the rise according to the Wyoming Department of Health news letter.  Here is some helpful information regarding this dangerous STD.

 

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a communicable disease spread through sexual contact.   The bacteria responsible for the infection is called treponema pallidum and is shaped in little spirals.  There are 4 stages of this life threatening disease.

Primary Stage:  During the primary stage a person will get one or more sores called chancres at the site of the infection.  The sores are usually painless, firm, round and small.  This happens from 10-90 days after getting the infection.  A person doesn’t always notice the sores and is very contagious at this time.

Secondary Stage: After the chancres fade and heal, rashes can appear on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, on the face or sometimes other areas of the body.  The rashes do not usually itch and are sometimes very faint and hard to notice. Sometimes a patient may have sores in the mouth, swollen lymph glands, fever, fatigue and other symptoms.  This stage will go away usually between 2 and 12 weeks.  The patient can still spread the disease at this time.

Latent Stage: The symptoms all go away but the bacteria is still living in the person’s body.  This stage can last from 10-30 years.  The patient may still be infectious for the first year.

Late Stage: If a person is not treated during one of the earlier stages, they may go into late stage syphilis.  This is very serious.  A person can develop paralysis, blindness, and dementia, organ damage, and even die.

Treatment:

Syphilis is treatable with antibiotics.  The infection can be treated during any stage of illness, however, the damage already caused by the disease cannot be reversed.

Prevention:

*According the CDC  (Center for Disease Control), the only way to prevent syphilis is to avoid any sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

*The second best option is be in a monogamous relationship with a partner free from disease.

*Condoms may reduce risk, however, the chancres may not be covered by the condom and may be able to spread the infection even when a condom is used.

Get Tested!

If you are sexually active, be sure to ask your doctor about getting tested or visit your local public health department for testing. Pregnant woman should receive routine testing because they can spread the disease to their unborn baby. Syphilis is a serious infection and is on the rise in our state. It’s better to be safe (be tested) than sorry (learn you have an advanced stage of the disease)!

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