Definition: An acute and chronic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and transmitted by direct contact, usually through sexual intercourse. After an incubation period of 12–30 days, the first symptom is a chancre, followed by slight fever and other constitutional symptoms (primary syphilis), followed by a skin eruption of various appearances with mucous patches and generalized lymphadenopathy (secondary syphilis), and subsequently by the formation of gummas, cellular infiltration, and functional abnormalities usually resulting from cardiovascular and central nervous system lesions (tertiary syphilis).
[Mod. L. syphilis (syphilid-), (?) fr. a poem, Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus, by Fracastorius, Syphilus being a shepherd and principal character]
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