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What are the symptoms of the sexually transmitted infection Syphilis and how is it usually treated?

For centuries syphilis was the most widespread sexually transmitted disease in the UK. However, in recent years the number of infected individuals has dramatically fallen.

But that's not to say that the infection has been fully eradicated, far from it. Each year in the UK alone there are almost 1000 newly reported cases of the condition.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection transmitted through sexual contact. The bacteria can pass into the body through the smallest of abrasions and affects the skin, mouth, anus and vagina.

The bacteria can also be transmitted via blood and as a result a pregnant woman can pass the disease onto her unborn child.

Unlike many other sexually transmitted infections, syphilis is not difficult to detect. Initially, sores will begin to develop on the genitals, anus or inside the mouth. This is usually followed by fever, headache and a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (although it can appear anywhere).

In the vast majority of cases, the disease is detected at this stage and effectively treated with antibiotics. However, if these distinct symptoms are ignored and the virus is not treated, it can lead to a whole host of serious problems, including blindness and heart disease, in years to come.

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