What are the symptoms of
Many people with
syphilis have no symptoms for several years and are thus unaware of
In the primary stage of
infection, usually a single sore, but possibly several, will develop
called a chancre, appearing at the spot where syphilis entered the body.
The chancre is round, small, firm and painless and will last three to
six weeks and will heal without treatment.
If treatment is not
administered in the primary stage of infection, the disease enters the
secondary stage. A rash will begin to develop on one or more areas of
the body, usually as rough, red or reddish brown spots on the palms of
the hands and the bottom of the feet. In addition to rashes, symptoms of secondary
syphilis may include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy
hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches, and fatigue. These will go away eventually without
treatment, but withouth treatment, the disease
will progress to the latent
The latent stage affects
around 15 percent of those with the disease who never received treatment
and can appear 10 to 20 years after initial infection. During the latent
stage, signs and symptoms of the disease include difficulty coordinating
muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, tumors, and
dementia, and can be fatal.
How is syphilis spread?
Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a
syphilis chancre, which is usually found on the penis, vagina, anus or
in the rectum. Transmission occurs during vaginal, oral or anal sex.
Pregnant women can pass the disease on to their child during the
What treatments are
available for syphilis? How serious is the disease?
Syphilis is curable and easy to treat. A single shot of penicillin (or
other antibiotics if the person is allergic to penicillin) will cure a
person who has had infection for less than a year. If a person has been
infected for more than one year, multiple doses of penicillin (or other
antibiotics) are required.
How many cases of
syphilis have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Cases of syphilis have been increasing in Northern Kentucky. In 2010, a
total of 25 cases were reported; 34 cases were reported in 2011 and 44
Several Northern Kentucky ZIP codes have higher rates of syphilis. Those
include: 41011, 41018, 41071 and 41073. Sypilis rates are also high in
the Cincinnati area.
Northern Kentucky syphilis cases are fairly evenly split among men and
Where can I get more
information on syphilis?
For more information
online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control at
Or, for more
information, please call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.