Feedback on What is syphilis?

I like it when readers correct me. It means people do read the column and that they value the importance of correct information being presented. A reader, Peter Nyasulu wrote me this e-mail.

Hie Muza,

I write to respond to your article on the above topic which appeared in Weekend Nation newspaper.

You should add in your definition that syphilis can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or child birth. In the definition, you have correctly mentioned that syphilis is a bacterial infection. But in your subsequent paragraphs, you are referring to it as a viral infection. for example  I quote” …the most common symptom is a sore that appears where the virus was transmitted,”

Another error, I quote “..if the virus itself is not treated it will move to the second stage” end of quote. These errors can distort medical facts and confuse people, especially as you have mentioned that syphilis which is bacteria caused can rightly be treated by penicillin antibiotic, but because of the mentioning of virus, the facts are not matching. Viruses are difficult to treat and cure and cannot be treated with antibiotics.

It could be more helpful if this information can be corrected to avoid confusing the readers.

I am one of the keen readers of your articles. Keep on writing.

Peter Nyasulu.

Dear Peter,

Thank you for the feedback and apologies to readers for the errors.



Key facts about syphilis

According to US’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC), syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly. Symptoms in adults are divided into stages. These stages are primary, secondary, latent, and late syphilis.

You can get syphilis by direct contact with syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sores can be found on the penis, vagina, anus, in the rectum, or on the lips and in the mouth. Syphilis can also be spread from an infected mother to her unborn baby.

Syphilis has been called ‘the great imitator’ because it has so many possible symptoms, many of which look like symptoms from other diseases. The painless syphilis sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump. The non-itchy body rash that develops during the second stage of syphilis can show up on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, all over your body, or in just a few places. Syphilis can also affect the eye and can lead to permanent blindness. This is called ocular syphilis. You could also get syphilis and have very mild symptoms or none at all

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. n

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