Syphilis is a spectrum of disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It is a spirochete bacterium that is transmitted through oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. In early infection, patients may notice a single painless ulcer at site of inoculation, however this is often missed because it is not painful. This ulcer will go away on its own regardless of treatment after 3-6 weeks, however this does not mean syphilis is gone. In secondary syphilis which occurs either as the ulcer is healing or soon after, patients can develop a rash which classically presents involving the palms and soles however it can be highly variable. The rash will also resolve on its own. If treatment is not given, syphilis can become latent leading to severe symptoms including infection of the brain and nervous system, eyes, or ear.
Syphilis has been on the rise over the past decade. Men who have sex with men are at the highest risk, however over recent years other populations have also had increase rates of syphilis. In addition, spread of syphilis from mother to unborn child has resulted in increased rates of congenital syphilis. We recommend getting routinely screened for syphilis, utilizing condoms the right way every time you have sex, and getting routine prenatal care when pregnant. Syphilis is effectively treated with penicillin.
To learn more: https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm
Germs live everywhere, including your skin. These germs can spread from you to another person or surface, causing unintended illness. This is why practicing hand hygiene and wearing the appropriate PPE are important in healthcare.