Diagnosis

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.
  • 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.

Aug. 17, 2016
References
  1. Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/default.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  2. Hicks CB, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and treatment of early syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Syphilis. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  4. Hicks CB. Diagnostic testing for syphilis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases: Treatment guidelines 2015. MMWR. 2015;64:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6403a1.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  6. 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 March 28, 2016.
  7. Syphilis – 2015 sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/syphilis.htm. Accessed March 28, 2016.