Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). If left untreated, syphilis can cause brain, nerve, tissue damage, and death. Fortunately, syphilis can be treated with antibiotics.

Syphilis is caused by specific bacteria. It is transmitted through direct contact with a syphilis lesion. This may occur when:

  • There is vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact with an infected person
  • A pregnant woman passes the infection to her unborn baby— congenital syphilis