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Emergency Medical Minute


Jul 20, 2018

Author: Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:


  • Re-emerging STI.
  • Progresses through distinct phases if untreated:
  • Primary syphilis: frequently overlooked because initial chancre is painless.
  • Secondary syphilis: viral syndrome, rash on trunk, palms, and soles.
  • Latent syphilis: asymptomatic period, lasting 5-20 years.
  • Tertiary syphilis: includes neurosyphilis (dementia, encephalitis, etc.) and cardiovascular syphilis (aortitis, etc).
  • Treatment penicillin G 2.4 million units once for primary or secondary treatment; once weekly for 3 weeks for latent/tertiary.



Mattei, P., Beachkofsky, T., Gilson, R., Wisco, O. Syphilis: A reemerging infection. 2012. American Family Physician., 86(5), 433-440.