Non-venereal endemic syphilis

Non-Venereal Endemic Syphilis

Non-venereal endemic syphilis is a variant of the chronic, sexually-transmitted syphilis infection caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum. It is endemic in certain parts of the world, and tends to affect communities with limited access to medical care and education about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Non-venereal syphilis can be either congenital or acquired through contact with infected individuals or the contamination of fomites.

The disease is characterized by widespread skin lesions, mucous membrane lesions, enlarged lymph nodes, and systemic symptoms such as fever, malaise, and weight loss. It can cause serious complications, including cardiovascular and neurologic disorders, if left untreated.


  • Skin lesions, including chancres, rash, and ulcers
  • Mucous membrane lesions
  • Enlarged and tender lymph nodes
  • Fever, malaise, and weight loss
  • Headache, sore throat, and eye and ear infections
  • Fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain
  • Signs of neurologic disorders, such as headaches, seizures, paralysis, and memory disorders
  • Cardiovascular complications, such as aneurysms and heart valve damage


Diagnosis of non-venereal endemic syphilis is made through physical examination, laboratory tests, and patient history. Blood tests to detect antibodies to the T. pallidum are the most common method of diagnosis. HIV tests may be recommended as well. Skin and mucous membrane biopsies may also be taken to identify the presence of T. pallidum.


Non-venereal endemic syphilis is treated with antibiotics, such as penicillin or tetracyclines. Treatment should be tailored to the individual patient and can include a combination of medications. It is important that all sexual partners are treated simultaneously to prevent reinfection.


The best way to prevent non-venereal endemic syphilis is to practice safe sex and to use condoms when engaging in sexual activities. Education of at-risk populations is also important to help reduce the transmission of STIs.