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The Secret Plague

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Karen Slonim

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The Secret PlagueKey IssuesSyphilisa complicated multistage diseaseth An emerging disease in 15 century Europe Treatments through time Origins of syphilisWhat is syphilisTreponema pallidumA spirochaetea member of a family of bacteria Shaped like undulating rods Spread by sexual contact horizontal transmission Fragile can be killed very easily with heat drying soapCongenital form vertical transmission Infection usually occurs in penis cervix vulva through mouth throat or anus Doubling time of 30 hoursCurrent treatment is penicillinWasserman test used to detect syphilis in bloodThree main stages o Primaryo Secondary o Tertiary Untreated can be fatal or seriously disabling Can lead to irreversible damage to cardiovascular central nervous or musculoskeletal system Primary SyphilisPainless chancre ulcerErupts 3 6 weeks after contact at site of inoculation Highly infectious when chancre appears sheds T pallidum continuously Disappears 46 wks later leaving no scar Secondary Syphilis Untreated moves to secondary bacteremic stageAbout 6 weeks after primary chancre heals Spirochetes multiply and spread via blood throughout body Systemic widespread rash small flat red lesions esp on palms soles mucous membranes in mouth Condyloma lata highly contagious painless wartlike lesions in warm moist sites genitalia Resolves after 6 monthslatent stageTertiary SyphilisDevelops over 640 yearsOnlyof untreated patients will progress to this stage Gummas appear 310 years after primary infection soft noncancerous growths Spread throughout body anywhere blood goesSkin gummas painless but bone lesions deep gnawing pain
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