The symptoms develop in three stages:

  • Primary syphilis: The first or primary stage of syphilis is characterized by the formation of a painless ulcer known as a chancre.
  • Secondary syphilis: The symptoms of secondary syphilis will begin a few weeks after the disappearance of the sore. The symptoms include muscle aches, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms – such as tiredness, headaches and joint pains 
  • Tertiary syphilis: Common symptoms include fever, painful, non-healing skin ulcers, bone pain, liver disease, and anemia. The symptoms of tertiary syphilis will depend on what part of the body the infection spreads to.
Tests to diagnose: 

Syphilis can be diagnosed by testing samples of blood, fluid from sores and cerebral spinal fluid


Primary and secondary syphilis can be successfully treated with a single dose of penicillin, which is given as an injection. Follow-up blood tests are done to make sure that treatment has been effective.