Syphilis is a serious sexually transmitted disease that may cause damage to systems throughout the body. People may be unaware that they are carrying the disease and so infect others. The disease can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, often causing serious developmental problems or even the death of the child.

The first symptoms of syphilis appear a month after becoming infected. One or more painless, open pinkish-red sores appear at the infection site, sometimes in places that escape notice. This is followed by enlargement of lymph nodes in that area of the body.

The ulcers (although not the disease) go away by themselves even without treatment. Syphilis progresses cyclically, with skin rashes being characteristic; during remissions between stages, there are no symptoms. The general symptoms are malaise and fatigue, which can be transient. The disease may also sometimes progress without skin rashes, as a “silent” disease.

Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics, but a person who has had syphilis is ineligible to be a blood donor.