Syphilis Test- Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Syphilis is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) which is carried by spirochete bacterium known as Treponema pallidum. Syphilis test is used for detecting the presence of this bacterium in tissue, body fluid or blood. When the initial or the first screening test turns out to be positive indicating traces of the bacterium then a second test is performed to confirm this result. As it is a sexually transmitted disease, in majority of the cases the bacterium gets transmitted through agents like anal, oral or vaginal sex.

Syphilis Test

Different Types of Syphilis Test

There are five important Syphilis test used for its diagnosis and they are

Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) Test: This test primarily deals with blood samples and uses antibodies for tracing Treponema pallidum. After a positive EIA test the patient has to follow up with RPR or VDRL tests.

Treponema pallidum Particle Agglutination assay (TPPA): It falls under the category of confirmation test which is often done after positive results are received from the screening tests. One interesting thing about TPPA is that it is not carried out using spinal fluids rather urine or blood samples are used for this test.

Microhemagglutination assay (MHA-TP): MHA-TP is yet another confirmatory test carried out after Venereal disease research laboratory test and Rapid Plasma regain test. Both the tests detect syphilis antibodies through body fluids.   

Dark field Microscopy:  This test utilizes a special form of microscope for examining syphilis infection. To carry out this test a sample is taken from the sore or ulcers and this is placed under the microscope, this tissue reflects whether  Treponema pallidum bacteria is present in the sore sample or not.        

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How To Come Prepared For Syphilis Test?

There is no additional preparation required for the test. It is a normal blood sample test, where fasting is not needed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Syphilis Test

What are The Possible Outcomes of Syphilis Test? There are two possible outcomes of the test reactive (positive) and non reactive (negative). Here positive diagnosis is only established after performing second test or TTPA test.

Symptoms of Syphilis

The symptoms of syphilis are mainly divided into four stages which are primary, secondary, tertiary and latent stage,

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  • Early syphilis (Primary Stage): This is the first stage of the disease where the victim starts developing one or multiple number of sores. These sores usually occur at the mouth and genitals too. The incubation period of the bacterium is 90 days hence the sores appear just after the incubation period is over. When left untreated these sores tend to take the form of scars and blisters.
  • Secondary Stage: The second phase of the disease can start from three weeks and last up to three months. During this period the patient becomes victim of red rashes even known as the “copper penny” that spreads across the palm and hands too. Other than that, rashes with distinct appearance may be located at other areas of the body, triggering white patches and moist warts over the body. Many more visible symptoms like weight loss, fever and swollen mouth are experienced during this stage.
  • Latent syphilis: This is the stage in which infection starts becoming dormant without showcasing any more possible signs and symptoms.
  • Tertiary Stage: It is the last stage of the disease, where if the bacterium is not treated that it can spread across the major organs of the body affecting nerves, brain and heart too. The severe outcomes of this stage are deafness, impotence, blindness, paralysis and death too.