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Syphilis 

Syphilis
Chapter:
Syphilis
Author(s):

Phillip Read

, and Basil Donovan

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0141
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date: 07 March 2021

Syphilis results from infection with the spirochaete Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum, for which humans are the only known natural host. In adults it is transmitted primarily by sexual contact. The organism gains entry into the body through small breaks in the skin or the intact mucosal surfaces of the genitals, mouth, or anus, and is able to invade and survive in a wide variety of tissues.

Since the availability of penicillin, syphilis has become primarily (>90%) a disease of less affluent countries or of minority subpopulations in more affluent countries with poor access to healthcare. It is also a disease of people with rapid rates of partner change (e.g. men who have sex with men and commercial sex workers).

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