Syphilis Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again

Syphilis Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again

If you thought syphilis was long gone, you’d be sore­ly” mis­tak­en. The world has expe­ri­enced a dra­mat­ic increase in the num­ber of syphilis cas­es. In 2007, Ger­many report­ed more than 4,300 cas­es, but that num­ber near­ly dou­bled in 2017 – to 7,476.

Why is that?

It’s the ease peo­ple have in trav­el­ing from one city to anoth­er – from one coun­try to anoth­er – and the oppor­tu­ni­ty they have to sleep with an indi­vid­ual. This increas­es the chances of being infect­ed with syphilis.

In the 1980s, there was the safe sex mantra that was in response to the HIV pan­dem­ic, but it’s not prac­ticed today like it was then. Today’s young peo­ple didn’t expe­ri­ence the fear that the first HIV cas­es caused, so many of them don’t have the impor­tant infor­ma­tion on how to keep them­selves safe dur­ing sex­u­al activity.

How Can You Know If You Have Syphilis?

Not every­body with syphilis will present with symp­toms or the same symp­toms. For some cas­es, an ulcer appears at the site of the infec­tion, rang­ing from pim­ple size to even big­ger. Men will often see ulcers on their penis while women can see them on their labia or in the vagi­na. An ulcer can also appear on the tongue, lips and anus.

In some cas­es, the syphilis bac­te­ria is on the finger.

Why It’s An Issue

In many cas­es, peo­ple tend to mis­take the symp­toms of syphilis or some­thing else or believe that what­ev­er they have will go away on its own. The ulcer, with­out treat­ment, does clear up after three weeks.

How­ev­er, a skin rash will devel­op some­time lat­er because the pathogens have spread to the entire body because of the blood­stream. Skin sores, of var­i­ous types, are like­ly to devel­op. One per­son may have knob­by sores, oth­ers scaly and oth­ers red­dish. The rash­es can occur on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet. They can eas­i­ly be dis­tin­guished from an aller­gic rash, as they don’t itch.

This is the disease’s sec­ond stage.

Dur­ing the ter­tiary stage, the liv­er, stom­ach, res­pi­ra­to­ry sys­tem, bones, mus­cles and inter­nal organs are also affect­ed. If still left untreat­ed, it could cause the devel­op­ment of a syphilitic node on the aor­ta, which then caus­es the life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion called aor­tic aneurysm.

Since syphilis is a sys­temic dis­ease, the fourth stage could cause irre­versible effects includ­ing brain changes, decrease in liv­er func­tion, paral­y­sis and heart inflam­ma­tion. Approx­i­mate­ly 25 per­cent of syphilis patients will also suf­fer from brain inflam­ma­tion (encephali­tis) because the cells and neur­al path­ways have become dam­aged. Many well-known indi­vid­u­als are thought to have suf­fered from this con­di­tion such as Friedrich Niet­zsche, Cather­ine the Great of Rus­sia and Lud­wig van Beethoven.

It’s also not unheard for the dis­ease to have a person’s eyesight.

How Is Syphilis Treated?

Even though there is a rise in the num­ber of STD cas­es, includ­ing syphilis, it’s still a rather touchy sub­ject to most peo­ple. A per­son infect­ed with the dis­ease may be shunned upon. In fact, HIV is wide­ly more accept­ed than syphilis. At this time, the only real course of treat­ment for syphilis is penicillin.

Health offi­cials are wor­ried that syphilis could one day become resis­tant to peni­cillin, which would have dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences to the world. There have been efforts to cre­ate oth­er antibi­otics to cure the disease.

Mon­ey Is Nec­es­sary For Fight­ing The Disease

Despite its long-stand­ing his­to­ry, many peo­ple have for­got­ten about the dis­ease. This is why it’s so dan­ger­ous. Although it can be treat­ed, the dis­ease has not been erad­i­cat­ed. The only sure­fire to slow down its pro­gres­sion is through edu­ca­tion, coun­sel­ing, ther­a­py and diagnostics.

The con­dom is the best pro­tec­tion against the spread of the dis­ease (con­doms are ide­al for all STDs like HIV). How­ev­er, edu­ca­tion and research are still a good part of slow­ing down its pro­gres­sion. The Cen­ter for Sex­u­al Health and Med­i­cine have made gath­er­ing syphilis infor­ma­tion its pri­ma­ry pri­or­i­ty, but efforts still need to be made. 

All this takes mon­ey. Gov­ern­ments around the world are not focused on the long-term effects the mon­ey can have. Researchers need mon­ey now to see break­throughs five to 10 years from now. Every pos­si­ble pro­tec­tion must be made against STDs. For exam­ple, researchers could devel­op a vac­cine for HIV, which could be includ­ed in pre­ven­ta­tive health exams.

If applied to syphilis, it would be a decline in the num­ber of cas­es for the dis­ease as well as oth­er STDs.


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