Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that’s on the rise in the US. The long-term ramifications are definitely serious. And even though it’s pretty scary, syphilis is an infection you can avoid. Along with practicing safe sex, it’s good to know about this STD and be familiar with its symptoms. 

What is syphilis?

According to the CDC, syphilis is a chronic infectious disease that is spread through oral, vaginal and anal sex. And while it’s increasing throughout the country, California is seeing a significant rise in this STD. 

From 2016 to 2017 alone, California Department of Public Health reported a 20 percent increase in early syphilis cases. These numbers are the highest the state has seen in 30 years. The report also revealed that since 2012, there was a 7-fold increase in early syphilis for females. 

There are three main stages of syphilis and here are the symptoms for each one.

Stage one syphilis

The first signs of syphilis are one or many pumps. They aren’t painful and they occur where the infection has occurred. They can linger for anywhere from three to six weeks before going away. Stage one syphilis requires quick treatment to prevent the disease from spreading.

Stage two syphilis

Stage two syphilis comes with many symptoms that are easy to confuse with the cold or flu. These symptoms include a reddish brown rash on the hands and feet, along with fever, sore throat, headaches, muscles aches, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.

Stage three syphilis

Stage three usually occurs after the infection has been in your body for anywhere from 10 to 20 years. The health problems can be pretty severe, including dementia, infertility, heart problems, migraines, brain inflammation and even death. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), just one dose of benzathine penicillin can help prevent syphilis from spreading if it’s administered early.