Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Between the period between 2012 and 2016, the prevalence of syphilis in Ghana, Africa, has been estimated to be 2.58%.
Today, we are lucky enough that Syphilis is easily treated with the use of Penicillin; however, in the past, there have been some controversial treatment methods applied in the Syphilis cases.
Read More: Syphilis Symptoms
Treating Syphilis in the past
In the 1800s, it was common to treat Syphilis infections by using mercury. However, this led to some mild to more serious side-effects, including gum ulcers, and lose teeth, kidney failure, and mercury poisoning that resulted in death. In the 1900s, the treatment with mercury has been discontinued, only to be replaced with the use of malaria to treat Syphilis.
It was discovered that Treponema pallidum does not tolerate temperatures above 40°C. So by infecting the patients with malaria, they would experience hot flashes, which would help eliminate the Syphilis infection.
Later, malaria would be easily treated with the use of quinine. Although this has been a rather effective way to eliminate the infection, and its discoverer Julius Wagner-Jauregg has been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927, this treatment method has been easily replaced with the discovery of Penicillin in the 1940s.
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Modern techniques for treating Syphilis
Since its discovery in the 1940s, Penicillin remains to serve as one of the most common antibiotics used to fight Syphilis. It is the Penicillin G benzathine, a specific type of Penicillin, that is most commonly being used in the cases of Syphilis. If diagnosed and treated in its early stages, Syphilis is highly treatable with the use of Penicillin.
Penicillin is administrated intramuscularly. A single shot of Penicillin G benzathine can help stop the progression of the Syphilis infection. In the case of the brain and the spinal cord being affected by Syphilis, an intensive regiment of Penicillin for about 10 to 14 days is being applied.
Product: Syphilis Test
For those who are allergic to Penicillin, other antibiotics such as doxycycline, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone are often used. However, Penicillin is the only recommended treatment for an existing Syphilis infection during pregnancy.
In the case of pregnancy, the known Syphilis infection is treated with desensitization, which will eliminate their hypersensitivity to Penicillin to enable them to take Penicillin safely.
Read More: Syphilis – a short guide to treatment
Get Treated early
If left untreated, Syphilis can lead to serious damage and even death. The high prevalence of Syphilis in Ghana, Africa, points out to the need to raise awareness on the topic of diagnosing and treating Syphilis in its earliest stages.
It can take a single injection to eliminate the symptoms of the infection, thanks to the highly effective Penicillin antibiotic that we have to rely on today. Diagnosing and treating this problem can take a few days, and it can help preserve your life.