Syphilis can be diagnosed by testing samples of:
- Blood. Blood tests can confirm the presence of antibodies that the body produces to fight infection. The antibodies to the bacteria that cause syphilis remain in your body for years, so the test can be used to determine a current or past infection.
- Fluid from sores. Your doctor may scrape a small sample of cells from a sore to be analyzed by microscope in a lab. This test can be done only during primary or secondary syphilis, when sores are present. The scraping can reveal the presence of bacteria that cause syphilis.
- Cerebral spinal fluid. If it's suspected that you have nervous system complications of syphilis, your doctor may also suggest collecting a sample of cerebrospinal fluid through a procedure called a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).
Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your local health department offers partner services, which will help you notify your sexual partners that they may be infected. That way, your partners can be tested and treated and the spread of syphilis can be curtailed.
Jan. 02, 2014
- Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/default.htm. Accessed June 28, 2013.
- Hicks CB, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and treatment of early syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 28, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed June 28, 2013.
- Hicks CB. Diagnostic testing for syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 28, 2013.
- Roett MA, et al. Diagnosis and management of genital ulcers. American Family Physician. 2012;85:254.
- Ho EL, et al. Syphilis: Using modern approaches to understand an old disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2011;121:4584.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases: Treatment guidelines 2010. MMWR. 2010;59:1. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5912a1.htm. Accessed June 28, 2013.
- Partner services FAQs for the public and consumers of partner services activities. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/partners/faq-public.html. Accessed July 9, 2013.