Nav: Home

Syphilis survey reveals need for accurate testing for early infection

October 22, 2009

Although syphilis is one of the oldest known diseases, most health professionals do not have access to the tests necessary to reliably diagnose it in its earliest and most infectious stage. A recent survey of infectious diseases specialists regarding the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis appears in the November 15, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Definitive diagnosis of primary syphilis (the earliest stage of syphilis infection) relies on direct fluorescent antibody testing or darkfield microscopy, both of which are often unavailable in a clinical setting. Blood tests are commonly used to diagnose syphilis; however those tests produce false negatives in 20-30 percent of primary syphilis cases, allowing for the possibility of ongoing transmission.

According to study author Deborah Dowell, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Eighty-one percent of our survey respondents did not have access to darkfield microscopy. These clinicians should treat presumptively if they suspect early syphilis in their patients." Dr. Dowell also notes that there is a clinical and public health need for a rapid point of care test to reliably diagnose primary syphilis.

The survey also shows that most respondents treat HIV-positive patients who have secondary syphilis with three weekly penicillin injections although there is no evidence of improved outcomes for treating with more than one injection. Physicians with more syphilis management experience were more likely to treat with the recommended one injection, which suggests that physicians with less experience managing syphilis may lack confidence that management according to established guidelines is sufficient to prevent adverse outcomes.
-end-
Founded in 1979, Clinical Infectious Diseases publishes clinical articles twice monthly in a variety of areas of infectious disease, and is one of the most highly regarded journals in this specialty. It is published under the auspices of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Based in Arlington, Va., IDSA is a professional society representing more than 8,600 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.idsociety.org.

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Related Syphilis Articles:

Expert unravels disease that took the hearing of world-famous painter
Francisco Goya is the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th century.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Post-SARS, infection rates in China have steadied, but fast-growing and common infections now need attention
Following the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, China stepped up its prevention and control methods for all infectious diseases, and rates of infection have levelled off since 2009.
Antenatal screening in Europe: How to avoid mother-to-child transmission of infections
Transmission of infections with HIV, hepatitis B, syphilis or rubella from mother to child before and during birth as well as in infancy still occur across Europe -- despite existing prevention methods.
HIV treatment might boost susceptibility to syphilis, say researchers
The antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV infection might inadvertently be boosting gay/bisexual men's susceptibility to the bacteria responsible for syphilis, Treponema pallidum, conclude researchers in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
HIV therapy could be contributing to syphilis outbreak: UBC study
Drugs used to treat HIV could affect how the body responds to syphilis, inadvertently contributing to a current outbreak, a new study suggests.
Re-emergence of syphilis traced to pandemic strain cluster
Over the last few decades, an age-old infectious disease has been re-emerging globally: syphilis.
Screening for syphilis recommended for persons at increased risk of infection
The US Preventive Services Task Force has found convincing evidence that screening for syphilis infection in asymptomatic, nonpregnant persons at increased risk for infection provides substantial benefit.
Clay country poet suffered from congenital syphilis
Cornish 'Poet of the Clay' Jack Clemo became blind and deaf because of congenital syphilis inherited from his father, a new University of Exeter study has found.
Syphilis infections on the rise in Europe
New data released in ECDC's Annual Epidemiological report show that since 2010, the overall syphilis rates have been going up across Europe, particularly among men.
A brief history of syphilis points to a neglected disease in sub-Saharan Africa
It is known that syphilis rates have varied much between different countries and populations over the past 100 years.

Related Syphilis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".