A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control
Your page on Syphilis says that Syphilis is passed through skin to skin contact with a syphilis sore, does that mean that it's only transmittable during the early stage when a sore is present? The page also says that it is infectious during other stages, so I am confused. Are we able to pass syphilis to a partner at any time, or only during certain stages or symptoms? Thanks!

Hi

The easiest time to pass syphilis is during the primary, secondary and early latent stages. During these stages it is common for the person to have symptoms that can pass syphilis to someone else.

During the primary stage a sore can develop were the bacteria entered the body. This sore can be painless and in an area, were it will not be noticed. This will happen 3 to 90 days after contact and the sore will stay around for a few weeks. This sore or sores can pass syphilis easily if someone comes in direct contact with the area.

During the secondary stage people can develop varies symptoms and mucous patches inside the mouth, anus, penis and vagina. These patches often go unnoticed but have lots of bacteria on them so it can be easy to pass syphilis if someone comes in direct contacts with these moist patches. These symptoms usually show up 2 to 12 weeks after the primary sore appeared but can take up to 6 months.

During the Latent stage the person still has syphilis but often has no symptoms. If the person got syphilis within the last year they call this early latent syphilis. This stage is still highly infectious as there is a good chance the symptoms that can pass syphilis can reoccur.

To answer you question syphilis is the most easily transmitted within the first year of having it as it is common for syphilis sores and mucous patches to come and go during this period. Most of the time you never notice these so you don’t know when you could easily pass these to someone else.

After people have had syphilis for one year it becomes less likely to pass syphilis as the symptoms that can pass syphilis happen less frequently, but syphilis is still in the body and can cause damage to the internal organs if not treated.

If someone had syphilis and was treated for it they would have to wait for 2 weeks after their treatment before they would be safe not to pass it to someone else.

Please leave a comment to let us know if this answers your question or if you need more information.

Health Nurse

For other readers, please feel free to leave a comment, or let us know if this was helpful.

This answer was posted on April 7, 2017

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