Syphilis is an extremely infectious and contagious sexually transmitted disease engendered by peculiar kind of bacteria known as Treponema pallidum. Just like any other STDs, this disease is also spread through any kind of sexual contact which includes vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person. Also, it can spread from an infected mother to the unborn baby at the time of pregnancy or while giving birth. Syphilis has been existent for many centuries and can result in enduring damage to various organs if not treated properly. The bacteria which cause this disease are recognized as spirochetes owing to their spiral shape. It has been observed that the organisms infiltrate into the lining of the genital area or mouth. According to the research done on syphilis testing market, in 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported more than 56,400 cases of syphilis were recorded in the United States. The initial sign of syphilis is a small, painless sore. It can occur on rectum, sexual organs, or inside the mouth. The sore usually is termed as chancre, and many individuals often fail to notice immediately. Congenital syphilis is the term given to syphilis which is spread from an infected mother to the unborn child at the time of giving birth, which can result in extreme abnormalities or the baby can even die. This disease is curable in the primary stages. Also, the infection is often referred as ‘the great imitator’, which is generally a name given to medical problems which possess symptoms which can go along with a broad variety of diseases, thereby leading to confusion among people who are infected.
Syphilis Testing includes the following:
- Rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test – this test determines syphilis antibodies
- Venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test – this test examines the spinal fluid or blood for an antibody which can be created in individuals having syphilis. The antibody is not created as a resultant to syphilis in particular; therefore the result can be abnormal for causes other than this disease.
- Rapid immunochromatographic test – this screening test determines antibodies precisely to syphilis.
Syphilis test to confirm the disease
Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) test – checks the antibodies and the test can be done to discover syphilis apart from the initial three to four weeks post exposure to the disease. The test is done on a sample of spinal fluid or blood.
Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test – A positive EIA test must be affirmed with either RPR or VDRL tests.
Darkfield microscopy – the test involves using an exclusive microscope to search the syphilis germ in a sample of tissue or fluid acquired from an open sore. The use of this test is during the initial stage.
Microhemagglutination assay (MHA-TP) – this test confirms the presence of syphilis infection post another test which possesses positive results.
Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assays (TPPA) – this checks for antibodies and is used following other procedure if tested positive. This test cannot be done on spinal fluid.
Presently across the world, monoclonal antibodies, molecular diagnostics, gel micro-droplets, diagnostic imaging, flow cytometry, immunoassays, liposomes, differential light scattering, and chromatography, have surfaced as favored syphilis diagnostics. Also, in present day, all the methods of diagnosing syphilis are crawling their way into commercial/private labs, physician offices, public health labs, hospitals and blood banks.
Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.