Syphilis can be detected by a blood test, which looks for antibodies developed by the body. It can sometimes take a week to a few months to develop enough antibodies for a blood test to detect. Because of this, testing during early primary syphilis may come back with a false-negative result. Another way of testing for syphilis is by testing fluid taken from lesions or a chancre (infectious sore), which occur during primary or secondary syphilis. This is done by using a special microscope called a darkfield microscope (darkfield exam). It is possible to receive a false negative result from a darkfield exam, so a negative result does not necessarily rule out syphilis.
Symptoms Primary Syphilis
* Chancre: The primary stage of syphilis is usually marked by the appearance of a single sore, known as a chancre, within 10 to 90 days after contact with the bacteria at the site of infection. It is usually appears as a single, painless sore, that is raised or elevated.
* Chancres may be found: outside the genitals, including the penis, scrotum and vagina; inside the vagina or rectum; at or around the anus; or, on the lips or in the mouth, though this is not as common. The sore can last from one to five weeks and will go away by itself.
* The chancre will go away with or without treatment. Without treatment, the person will still have syphilis and can transmit it to others.
* The secondary stage of syphilis can develop 17 days to 6 1/2 months after infection.
* Symptoms can last from 2 to 6 weeks.
* Symptoms can include: a rough, reddish-brown rash that appears on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet, which normally does not itch; rashes on other parts of the body, including the neck, head and torso; condylomata lata or syphilitic "warts", moist, raised or elevated skin lesions, may be found in the anus or genital area; "mucous patches," flat, round, grayish-white sores, can appear on the mouth, throat, and cervix; patchy loss of hair on the head and other parts of the body; or, a general sense of ill health.
* Symptoms of secondary syphilis will clear up with or without treatment, but the disease will still be present if untreated. It will then enter into a latent stage, which has no signs or symptoms.