c. Stages of the Disease.
Terminology for stages of syphilis varies, but four stages are commonly
(a) Primary stage syphilis.
(b) Secondary stage syphilis.
Latent stage (early and late) syphilis.
Tertiary stage syphilis.
(2) A patient in either the primary or secondary stages of syphilis is very
infectious. An individual in the early latent stage has had the disease less than two
years and is to be considered infectious. An individual in the late latent stage has had
the infection more then two years and is not potentially infectious. In the tertiary (late)
stage, the individual is not considered infectious.
d. Signs and Symptoms of the Stages of Syphilis.
(1) Primary syphilis. The first sign of syphilis is a sore called a chancre.
One or more of these sores occur anywhere from 10 to 90 days after contact with an
infected carrier. Usually, the sore or sores appear two to four weeks after contact, the
most common locations being the genitals and the anus. Other locations of occurrence
include the lips, mouth, tongue, breast, or any part of the body where the infecting
organism entered the skin. The sore develops at the inoculation site as a red papule
that soon erodes, forming an ulcer (a round or oval shape surrounded by a red rim). No
pain is involved. Even without treatment, the sore usually heals in four weeks leading
the patient to believe that he is cured -- not true.
(2) Secondary syphilis. If the patient has not received effective treatment
for primary syphilis, secondary syphilis may develop from one to eight weeks after
infection. In approximately 25 percent of patients, there is a healing primary chancre.
Signs and symptoms of this stage, which can come and go from time to time, usually
last from three to six months. Additional signs/symptoms include:
(a) Weeping papules on the hands and the soles of the feet and moist
skin areas (condylomas).
(b) Painless mucous membrane lesions formed in the mouth, inside
the nose, and in the anogenital area.
Fever and malaise.