Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. It has been called “The Great Pretender”, as symptoms can resemble other diseases. If syphilis is untreated it can cause serious health complications.
The syphilis-causing bacterium is able to pass through intact mucous membranes or compromised skin, and is primarily transmitted during sexual contact, or during pregnancy or childbirth from an infected mother to her infant. Transmission can occur by kissing near a lesion (chancre), and through oral, vaginal, and anal sex.