Disease pathophysiology: Syphilis is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis. Other human diseases caused by related Treponema pallidum include yaws (subspecies pertenue), pinta (subspecies carateum) and bejel (subspecies endemicum).
Disease Statistics: Syphilis infection in pregnant women was 2.1% (26/1, 230 cases) in 1997, 2.6% (24/913 cases) in 1998, 4.6% (59/1, 257 cases) in 1999 and 3.7% (49/1, 300 cases) in 2000. The highest summary rate ratios were seen in remote/very remote areas. Over the past five years, a series of syphilis outbreaks mainly occurring among gay men have been observed in Europe. One of these outbreaks was reported in the city of Antwerp, Belgium, during the first quarter of 2001.
Treatment: The first choice for the treatment for syphilis is intramuscularbenzathine penicillin G Doxycycline and tetracycline in alternative choice to those who are allergic to pencillins Resistance to macrolides, rifampin, and clindamycin is often present. Ceftriaxone, a third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic, may be as effective as penicillin-based treatment. It is recommended that a treated person avoid sex until the sores are healed.