Syphilis is a highly contagious disease that is spread primarily through sexual contact. If untreated, it can lead to heart disease, brain damage, and blindness. Syphilis -- which has made a comeback in the U.S., especially among men who have sex with men -- is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, which enters the body through membranes around the rectum, in the mouth, and genitals. Early symptoms include chancre sores and rash around the rectum, genitals, and mouth. If untreated, the infection will begin to damage the organs. A woman infected with syphilis may pass it along to her newborn. Antibiotic treatment can cure syphilis, but cannot reverse late-stage damage from the disease. Follow the links below to find WebMD's comprehensive coverage about how syphilis is contracted, its symptoms, treatment, and much more.
WebMD discusses the health risks of oral sex, how to protect yourself, and more.
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