Syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease that can be contracted by other means but is typically a sexually-transmitted disease.
In very rare cases, it can be spread through prolonged kissing, as well as the more common routes of transmission: vaginal, anal and oral sex. It comes from the bacteria Treponema pallidum.
The infection develops in stages:
Small, painless sores (like ulcers) on genitals or in the mouth
Appear within 10-90 days after exposure
They disappear within six weeks, and do not leave a scar, before developing to stage two
Rosy rash on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet
Moist warts in the groin White patches inside the mouth
This all fades away without treatment before developing into stage three
Dormant, no symptoms
Without treatment it can progress to more severe issues with the heart, brain and nerves
In the early stages, patients can receive an injection of Benzathine penicillin G. This will not undo the internal damage but will eliminate the infection.
For those with latent syphilis - and are unsure how long they had it - doctors recommend having three doses of the penicillin injection, seven days apart from each other.
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