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.

Specific bacteria cause syphilis. It is passed through direct contact with a syphilis lesion, which may happen through:

  • Vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact with an infected person
  • A pregnant woman who passes the infection to her unborn baby (called congenital syphilis)