This is a Chronic Veneral disease which is caused by the bacterium ‘Treponema Pallidum’, rsulting in formation of lesions throughout the body. These bacteria enter the body through/via sexual intercourse. During the course of sexual coitus (intercourse), through mucus membranes of urethra or Vagina. But it is quite rare that they may transmit through scratches or skin wounds. Bacteria might also pass through (from) an infected pregnant woman across the placenta to the growing foetus and this state is called ‘Congenital Syphilis’ (that is syphilis is present at birth)
Following points may be noted in case of syphilis:
(a) It is a highly communicable disease, being passed from one (infected) person to another by mere contact.
(b) It is also communicated from parents to their offsprings.
(c) Syphilis can also be produced by some other means also, like a surgeon/dresser may transfer the disease inadvertently to a healthy person by using infected instruments dressings of infected person to the healthy one.
(d) Since this infection, though curable if detected at the initial stage, is quite serious and runs from one generation to another, if not treated well in time: but once fully eradicated, it is not likely to reappear unless one gets again infected. Its ramifications are quite serious and results in many incurable symptoms, including blindness.
Stages of Syphilis : Following stages of this malady may be carefully studied and taken note of.
(i) When a man cohabitates with a woman, who is already infected, he may abrade his penis (during the act of coition), and this abrasion may remain to be visible or in-visible – rather unnoticed for 2-4 weeks when nothing unusual would seem or felt to have occurred.
(ii) The period of first 2-4 weeks from the date of Cohabitation is called ‘Primary imcubation period.’
(iii) After lapse of a period of 2-4 weeks a hard, painless and single pimple appears at the sight where abrasion took place at the time of coition. Now top of this pimple erodes and looks like a crater which has hard raised margins. This is called The Primary sore/hard Chancre or a huntarain chancre.
(iv) At the above stage glands in the groin become tender and enlarged but do not often suppurate. There could be slow fever and headache. This sore usually lasts for 2-6 weeks and quite often heals itself, causing simulataneous subsidence of the glandular inflammation (called also ‘Bubo’). Stage from appearance of the hard Chancre to its final cure is known as ‘Stage of Primary Syphilis’.
(v) After a lapse of 3-4 months of the Primary stage starts The ‘secondary stage’ which is the most troublesome one, as now most of the symptoms start surfacing. The period between subsidence of primary stage and surfacing of secondary stage is known as ‘Incubation period’, when following symptoms of this dreaded diseases surface, viz
(a) Enlargment of glands.
(b) Fever and sore throat.
(c) Falling off of hair.
(d) Pain in joints and sores on toes.
(f) Tumours of the testicles.
(g) Deep-seated eye-disorders, (like iritis).
(h) Various types of skin eruption on various parts of the body
(i) Painful swellings of bones (called ‘Nodes’).
A patient does not experience any other problem and may pass rest of his life in peace and comfort, but after a lapse of about 15-20 years or even more, he finds himself landed in a trouble which lasts for the rest of life of the patient. One is likely to suffer from following symptoms
Widespread formation of tumours like masses (called ‘Gummas’)
Serious damage to blood vessels and heart (Cardiovascular Syphilis).
Damage to Spinal Cord and brain (Neuro syphilis), that results in tabe-dorsalis or locomotor ataxia, destroying the sensory nerves.
Loss of bladder control.
Severe and stabbing pains in trunk and legs.
Unsteady and tottering gate.
Damage to optic nerves, often resulting in total blindness and other deep-seated eye-troubles.
General paralysis ofthe insane.
Deep-seated mouth and throat troubles.
Skin eruptions, rashes and other diseases.
Treatment: This disease is manageable and curable if detected and treated at the appearance of initial symptoms. Usually a V.D.R.L. test will confirm or otherwise presence of infection in the blood and, if the result is positive, no delay should occur. It can also be detected by ‘Wesserman reaction’. Pencillin is fully effective in curing this malady, if administered in early weeks of detection. Once treated fully, it is not likely to resurface, unless one gets infected again. Reference may be made to antibiotics referred to earlier out of which Amoxyllin, Ciprofloxin, Septran, Gentamycin etc are prominent – dosage, frequency and duration to be determined only by an attending physician. After a full prescribed course has been completed a V.D.R.L test must be repeated and if there is a negative result, the patient should feel that his malady has been cured.