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.
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.