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Syphilis (Treponema pallidum) 

Syphilis (Treponema pallidum)
Chapter:
Syphilis (Treponema pallidum)
Author(s):

Mark N. Gilroy

and Juan C. Salazar

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190604813.003.0021
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date: 23 September 2019

Syphilis, a chronic, sexually transmitted disease caused by the extracellular spirochete Treponema pallidum, has exhibited a remarkable resurgence in recent years. Despite the existence of inexpensive, easily administered, and highly effective antibiotic treatments, maternal and neonatal syphilis infections continue to be a major global public health problem. In addition to its potential to cause morbidity in the mother, untreated gestational syphilis (GS) can lead to serious adverse outcomes in the offspring, including stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight, and neonatal death. Congenital syphilis (CS) is regarded as a missed opportunity during the antenatal care of the mother, resulting from socioeconomic, demographic, and behavioral factors that promote mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of syphilis. This chapter emphasizes emerging concepts about screening aimed at controlling the ongoing epidemic, including serological screening of mother and infant, newer paradigms of “reverse screening,” clinical presentation, therapy, and long-term neurodevelopmental disabilities that must be a component of follow-up care.

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