What is it?

Syphilis is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection that can cause serious health problem and permanent damage to the body. It has to be treated.

How do you get it?

You can get Syphilis if you have unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who already has the infection. Syphilis causes painless sores on the genitals or they can be hidden in the mouth, vagina or rectum. It can also cause a rash anywhere on the body. The infection is spread through contact with the sores or rashes. If you are pregnant and have Syphilis, you can pass on the infection to you baby before it is born or during birth, sometimes causing birth defects or death.

How can you tell if you have it?

  • In most cases, the first symptom is a sore that doesn’t hurt. It is called a chancre. You may not notice this sore. The sore goes away even if it is not treated but you still have the infection.
  • Later you may get a body rash and feel like you have the flu. These symptoms will also go away even if they are not treated.
  • If you don’t treat the Syphilis, you may get very sick. Untreated Syphilis can lead to damage to the heart, the brain and other organs of the body, and may even cause death.

How do you get tested?

You can get a special blood test or have the infected area swabbed.

How is it treated?

You should be treated for Syphilis as soon as you find out that you have it. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, usually penicillin. You will need to get penicillin injections. It is important to finish your treatment. If you are allergic to penicillin you will be given another antibiotic. You should tell you sexual partner that you have syphilis and they need to be tested and treated too.

Once you have been treated for Syphilis, you will need to go for blood tests to make sure that the medication worked and that you are cured of the infection. Your doctor or nurse will provide you with advice on how often you need to be tested and when you are no longer able to pass on the infection.

Source: Health Canada

Where can I get help?

Visit one of our Sexual Health Clinics or to speak confidentially with a Public Health Nurse call 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 779.