(Asia N = Park Myung Yoon <Азия N> (Health and Nutrition Editorial, Doctor of Public Health, Director of the Korea Institute of Health and Nutrition) Syphilis is caused by Treponema pallidum, a bacterium that belongs to the spirochete family. STD. Syphilis bacteria enter the body through small tears or abrasions in the skin and mucous membranes. Skin ulcers often occur in the genital area, vagina, and anus, but can also occur on the lips and mouth.
The name “syphilis”, which means syphilis, comes from the name of the legendary shepherd who appears in the book “Syphilis, or the French Disease”, written in 1530 by the Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro. Frakastro again used the word “syphilis” as the name for “syphilis” in his medical treatise “On Infectious Diseases and Contagious Diseases”, published in 1546, and this statement has stuck to this day.
Syphilis, which is predominantly sexually transmitted, has an ambiguous historical origin, so there are several theories. After Columbus returned from his first voyage in March 1493, sailors are thought to have spread syphilis to Spain, France, and Italy. When syphilis was widespread in Europe, it was called the “French disease” in Italy and Germany. Conversely, in France it was called the “Italian disease”.
The oldest record of syphilis in the Korean Peninsula is “Jibong Yusol” (芝峯類說) by Lee Su Gwang in 1614, which named syphilis “pempochan” (天疱瘡) and recorded that it was introduced from the West through China to 1510s. It is also written in Heo Jun’s “Donggibogam” (東醫寶鑑), it is called “Yangmaechan” (楊梅瘡) and shows that it is a venereal disease transmitted from the West. At the end of the Joseon Dynasty, the number of syphilis patients increased due to the opening of ports and the Sino-Japanese War. According to
Syphilis is divided into primary, secondary and tertiary syphilis, latent syphilis and congenital syphilis. “Primary syphilis” (primary syphilis) is usually transmitted through direct sexual contact with infectious foci of another person. Approximately 2 to 6 weeks after exposure, skin lesions called chancres (called calluses) appear. Syphilis bacteria are present in the chancre and can occur in parts of the body other than the genitals. An increase in lymph nodes occurs 7-10 days after the formation of hypothyroidism.
“Secondary syphilis” occurs 4 to 10 weeks after the initial infection. Symptoms vary and usually affect the skin, mucous membranes, or lymph nodes. A symmetrical reddish or pink rash may appear on the trunk and extremities, including the palms and soles. Other possible symptoms include fever, sore throat, malaise, weight loss, hair loss, and headache. Rare symptoms include hepatitis, kidney disease, arthritis, periostitis, and optic neuritis.
“Tertiary syphilis” can occur 3 to 15 years after the initial infection and is classified into three distinct forms (rubber syphilis, neurosyphilis, and cardiovascular syphilis). Gummy syphilis, or late benign syphilis, develops on average 15 years after the initial infection and is characterized by the formation of chronic gummous syphilis. Humoma is an inflammatory formation that looks like a tumor. “Neurosyphilis” is a syphilitic infection of the central nervous system that can occur at any stage of syphilis. The most common complication of cardiovascular syphilis is syphilitic aortitis.
“Latent syphilis” is an asymptomatic condition in which there are serological signs of infection. If left untreated, syphilis can progress to latent syphilis, which does not cause symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), early latent syphilis is when less than 2 years have passed since the moment of infection, and late latent syphilis – after 2 years from the moment of infection. The latent phase of syphilis can last from several years to decades.
“Congenital syphilis” is passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth. Congenital syphilis increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death, so experts recommend getting pregnant after treatment for syphilis. Two-thirds of newborns infected with congenital syphilis show no symptoms. Common symptoms in the first 2 years of life include hepatosplenomegaly, in which the liver and spleen are enlarged, rash, fever, neurosyphilis, and pneumonia.
There are two types of syphilis screening tests: the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test and the rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test, which are tests for non-syphilitic bacteria. These tests give fast results, but there are times when false positives (false positives) appear that are actually positive but not syphilis. Therefore, if the screening test is positive, it should be confirmed with an FTA-ABS test (fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption) or a TPHA test (Treponema pallidum haemagglutination assay), which is a specific test for syphilis. If neurosyphilis is suspected, a cerebrospinal fluid examination should be performed. When syphilitic bacteria spread throughout the body, it can cause neurosyphilis. Treatment depends on what stage of syphilis the patient is in. If detected early, it can be treated with penicillin antibiotics.
Neurosyphilis can be confirmed by cerebrospinal fluid analysis, BMRI, CT of the brain, etc. In the latent stage of late syphilis over 2 years, it can develop into tertiary syphilis or neurosyphilis. After a long period of neglect, it leads to the destruction of various organs or tissues, and even after treatment, the damaged organs or brain can have consequences.
The best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections is to avoid unsafe sex. For men, the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections is to use a latex condom during intercourse. However, even if you use contraceptives, you need to be careful, because you can become infected by contact with the mucous membrane of an infected person or damaged skin. Pregnant women should become pregnant after treatment if they are diagnosed with syphilis after being tested for syphilis before conception.