Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by a bacterium and passed around among sex partners. The Centers for Disease Control say that there are close to 50,000 cases of syphilis diagnosed in Americans each year. It is most prevalent in sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 24 and men who are between 35 and 39. Fortunately, once it is diagnosed, syphilis can be completely cured.
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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that syphilis can be easily cured if a person receives treatment within the first year of being infected. Those who have had the disease for less than a year can be cured with a single injection. A doctor will give them one intramuscular shot of penicillin, which should completely wipe out the syphilis. This is accomplished by killing the syphilis bacterium. Many patients experience a reaction called Jarisch-Herxheimer on their first day of treatment. The Mayo Clinic says it gives them chills, a fever, headache and nausea. The symptoms are not harmful and usually disappear by the following day.
Someone who does not get syphilis treatment within the first year of being infected will need multiple injections to be cured. They will be treated with penicillin, but they will need to return to the doctor several times to get additional doses until the disease is wiped out. This can be determined through blood tests. If the syphilis caused any damage while they were infected, the CDC warns that it cannot be reversed. The cure will only prevent any further damages.
Some people are allergic to penicillin. If they contract syphilis, the CDC says they can be treated with a different type of antibiotic chosen by their doctor. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women who have syphilis should not be treated with any antibiotic other than penicillin. If they are allergic to it, they can undergo a desensitization process to prepare them for the treatment.
If a person had sex with others before he discovered that he was infected with syphilis, he should notify his partners. This will allow them to get tested for the disease and to get early treatment if they were infected. If they are notified as soon as possible, they should be able to get the single-injection treatment.
The CDC says that patients who are being treated for syphilis should not have intimate contact with a partner until all of their sores are healed. They can pass the disease on to others, even though they have received an antibiotic, until the sores are completely gone.
Those who have had syphilis can be susceptible to being reinfected. Patients who have been treated for the disease should go to the doctor for a test if they suspect the disease might be recurring. They may have been reinfected by a partner who has the disease but does not show any symptoms.