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In the first phase, sores (chancre) may appear on the genitals or mouth several weeks to three months after exposure, lasting for one to five weeks. Often, however, there are no noticeable symptoms. In the second stage, up to 10 weeks after the initial sore has disappeared, a variety of symptoms can appear, including a rash (often on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or genital area).

What it is: An infection caused by small organisms, which can spread throughout the body.

How many get it
About 70,000 new cases each year.

How it's spread
Through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex — and also through kissing if there is a lesion on the mouth.

Antibiotic treatment can cure the disease if it’s caught early, but medication can’t undo damage the disease has already done. Both partners must be treated at the same time.

Possible consequences
Increased risk of HIV infection. If syphilis is left untreated, the symptoms will disappear, but the germ will remain within the body and progress into the third stage, which may seriously damage the brain, heart, and nervous system, and possibly cause death. It can also seriously harm a developing fetus during pregnancy.

Related Links

American Social Health Association
Syphilis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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