Brazil reports more than 122,000 new cases of syphilis between January and June 2022


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In 2021, more than 167,000 new cases of acquired syphilis and 74,000 cases in pregnant women were registered in Brazil. In the same year, another 27,000 cases of congenital syphilis were diagnosed, as well as 192 deaths from this form of syphilis.

By June 2022, 79,500 cases of acquired syphilis, 31,000 cases of syphilis in pregnant women, and 12,000 cases of congenital syphilis had already been found in the country, a total of more than 122,000 new cases of the disease.

There are two main types of syphilis:

It is transmitted from one person to another during vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom.

A pregnant woman transmits the disease to her child during pregnancy or childbirth. It can appear immediately after birth or after two years of a child’s life. During pregnancy, syphilis can cause miscarriage or premature delivery. It can also have severe consequences for the child, such as deafness, blindness, bone changes, deformity, mental deficiency, and may lead to death.


The disease manifests itself according to the stage of development. Thus, it can be classified into primary syphilis, secondary syphilis, tertiary syphilis, and latent syphilis.

In the initial stage, between 10 and 90 days after infection, sores appear on the penis, vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, mouth, or other places on the skin. This wound does not cause any pain, itching, burning or pus, and may be accompanied by lumps in the groin. The ulcer goes away on its own, even if it is not treated.

In secondary syphilis, signs appear between six weeks and six months after the initial wound appears and heals. The patches may appear all over the body, and they usually do not itch, including the palms of the hands and the soles. In addition to spots, there may be fever, malaise, headache and swelling all over the body. The spots disappear within a few weeks, even without treatment, which gives a false impression of treatment.

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Tertiary syphilis can appear between 1 and 40 years after the onset of infection and usually presents with skin, bone, cardiovascular and neurological lesions.

In cases of latent syphilis, the disease is asymptomatic. In this scenario, it is defined as recent latent (up to 1 year of infection) or late latent (more than 1 year of infection). The duration of this stage is variable, and it can be interrupted by the appearance of signs and symptoms of the secondary or tertiary form.

The rapid test for syphilis is practical, easy to perform and offered free of charge in the Services of the Unified Health System (SUS). The result appears in a maximum of 30 minutes. The main treatment is penicillin, also available in the SUS on prescription and under the guidance of a health professional.

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