The vision of Labrador-Grenfell Health is of healthy people living in healthy communities.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be spread through vaginal, anal and/or oral sex.  You can also become infected through sharing of equipment for injection or snorting drugs. Infection can also occur following deep, wet kissing.  During pregnancy, a mother infected with syphilis can spread the infection to the developing fetus.

Cause: A bacteria called Treponema pallidum

Symptoms: Many people have no symptoms at all but can still transmit syphilis and are at risk for complications. Syphilis infection occurs in three stages:

Primary Syphilis: A painless sore (chancre) appears in the genital area or mouth 3 days to three months after the initial contact. The sore may heal without treatment within 2 to 6 weeks. Syphilis in this stage is highly infectious.

Secondary Syphilis: Two to eight weeks after the appearance of the initial chancre sore other symptoms may develop, such as a rash on the chest or back and/or on the soles of feet and palms of hands, swollen glands and a general feeling of being unwell.

Tertiary Syphilis: Can occur following an untreated infection causing serious health problems to the brain, heart and skin or possibly death.

Neurosyphilis: At any stage, the bacteria can travel through the body and reach the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of this stage can include ringing in the ears, headache, decreased hearing and/or decreased vision.

Did You Know ?

  • If you have syphilis you are at a greater risk of contracting HIV
  • If you already have HIV, syphilis can be highly aggressive
  • Syphilis can be contracted through unprotected ORAL SEX!!
  • You can’t tell if someone has an STI by looking at them; the only way to know is to GET TESTED!

Testing: A simple blood test can detect syphilis infection

Treatment: If detected early, syphilis can be treated and cured with a long-acting antibiotic injection. If left untreated, syphilis can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart and other organs. In some cases it can be fatal.

Prevention: To reduce your risk of getting an STI, including syphilis and HIV, follow these practices

  • Practice safer sex, by properly and consistently using a condom or oral dam for each sexual encounter (Oral, Anal and Vaginal)
  • Get tested! See your healthcare provider
  • You and your partner should get tested for STIs before becoming sexually active
  • Get tested if you have many sexual partners or when you change sexual partners
  • Limit your sexual partners
  • If you use drugs, DO NOT share your equipment

Who Should Be Screened ?

  • Contact Labrador-Grenfell Health at 897-7354
  • Contact your family physician or health care provider
  • Contact Planned Parenthood of NL at 1-877-666-9847
  • Toll Free Newfoundland and Labrador HealthLine – Dial 811 (TTY 1-888-709-3555)
  • Toll Free Syphilis Information Line (Eastern Health) 1-877-752-4358 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

For More Information

  • Contact Labrador-Grenfell Health at 897-7354
  • Contact your family physician or health care provider
  • Contact Planned Parenthood of NL at 1-877-666-9847
  • Toll Free Newfoundland and Labrador HealthLine – Dial 811 (TTY 1-888-709-3555)
  • Toll Free Syphilis Information Line (Eastern Health) 1-877-752-4358 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
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