“The great imitator” is a nickname for the syphilis disease. This is due to the disease acting as a mimic for the signs and symptoms of other diseases. It is a hard diagnoses for this reason. Syphilis’ low incidence rate also makes it a difficult diagnoses. It is a sexual transmitted infection (STI) and is contracted via the bacterium Treponema pallidum.

The disease has four stages with primary syphilis and secondary syphilis commonly being referenced as P&S. Other stages are a latent syphilis and tertiary syphilis. Another form of syphilis that should be noted is neurosyphilis. This form of syphilis is what effected gangster Al Capone in the later years of his life. The late-stage neurosyphilis was responsible for causing his physical and mental deterioration and is believed to have been present since his childhood years when he contracted it.  All stages of syphilis can last for several years, or in Al Capone’s situation, a lifetime. Now with treatment available, there is no reason for anyone to be living with syphilis.  In the late stage or tertiary stage, severe health consequences aren’t uncommon but common. To see syphilis photos click the link and remember that these images may startle you.

This graph depicts different races, whites, blacks, hispanic and others and the number of newly arising cases of syphilis per year. As it shows, the most cases per year are reported between gay white men(~3000 cases) followed by gay black men; however, between women, there are more cases arising from black females(~1300 cases) and hardly any cases with white female women.




The disease is contracted via sexual contact with one exception. Congenital(existing or dating from birth) syphilis is acquired via translpacental transmission of T. pallidum. Sexual contact requires exposure to moist mucosal or cutaneous lesions of the primary or secondary spyhilis. Patients with untreated disease may apparently recover only to relapse over a period of up to two years. Therefore, a person may be able to transmit syphilis during the first year or two of untreated infection. The rate at which syphilis is acquired during sexual encounter is estimated at about 30% which is probably quite low. Thank goodness for that.  If interested, here  is a theory on the origin of syphilis. For the treatment of syphilis see here.