May 27, 2011
Alberta continues to experience a high number of new cases of infectious syphilis as well as other STIs including HIV. Cases are occurring throughout the province in males and females of all ages, ethnicities and sexual preferences. Although some cases have been linked to the sex trade, many are in persons reporting casual and/or anonymous sexual encounters and occasionally in people who had assumed their situation was monogamous. Testing is critical to identification of at risk individuals who may be asymptomatic.
Primary syphilis – classically presents as painless ano-genital or oral ulceration. May heal spontaneously.
Secondary syphilis – Generalized rash, particularly on the palms and soles, sometimes accompanied by fever and lymphadenopathy; mucus lesions, condyloma lata, patchy or diffuse alopecia, meningitis, headaches, uveitis, retinitis. Untreated, it progresses to latent and tertiary stages.
Latent syphilis – asymptomatic.
Tertiary syphilis – Cardiovascular syphilis (aortic aneurysm, aortic regurgitation, coronary artery ostial stenosis); neurosyphilis (ranges from asymptomatic to symptomatic with headaches, vertigo, personality changes, dementia, ataxia, presence of Argyll Robertson pupil); gumma (tissue destruction of any organ; manifestations depend on site involved).
Assistance with interpretation of test results, management of suspect/confirmed cases and partners and treatment can be obtained by contacting: