Report suspected or confirmed cases within 3 days.
Test people 45 or younger that have sex.
Syphilis is increasing in all groups, especially in heterosexual people.
Pregnant people with syphilis can pass it to their baby.
- Low birth weight.
- Permanent neurologic and physical damage.
As syphilis cases in heterosexual people increase, cases of congenital syphilis are rapidly increasing.
Test pregnant women:
- The first time they see any provider, as RCW 70.24.090 requires.
- At around 28 weeks gestation, and again at delivery or stillbirth/termination.
Diagnosis and treatment are complex.
Treat patients that:
- Present with syphilis symptoms, like:
- Ulcerative or wart-like lesions in or around the mouth, anus, penis, vulva or vagina.
- Body rash.
- Palmar or plantar rash.
- Patchy alopecia.
- Report exposure within the last 3 months, regardless of test results.
- If a patient tests negative and refuses treatment, test again in 1 and 3 months.
Exposed patients may test negative during the incubation period (up to 3 months). Treat recently exposed patients regardless of test results.
Stages of Syphilis
Painless sores on body parts used for sex.
- Highly infectious.
- Often misdiagnosed (can look like an ingrown hair).
- Can appear within days or months of exposure.
- Resolve without treatment.
Typically last a few weeks and resolve without treatment.
- Rashes anywhere on body.
- Patchy hair loss (can include eyebrows).
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Mucous patches on mucous membranes like mouth, vagina and anus.
- Wart-like lesions on anus, vagina or penis.
Early Non-Primary Non-Secondary:
- Less than 1 year after exposure.
Unknown duration or date:
- More than 1 year after exposure or infection date unknown.
We recommend the reverse testing algorithm.
No FDA-approved PCR tests exist for syphilis. Treponemal and non-treponemal serology testing are both used to increase sensitivity and specificity. These tests can be used with traditional and reverse algorithms. We recommend the reverse testing algorithm. It’s what Washington Public Health Lab uses.
- Diagnose, manage and prevent syphilis, New York City STD/HIV Prevention Training Center.
- Syphilis, Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
- Syphilis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC).