Syphilis is a chronic, infectious, constitutional disease caused by treponema pallidum (spirochseta pallida). Infection commonly enters through abrasion of the skin or mucous membrane and produces after a variable period (first incubation period) a more or less characteristic local lesion. This is the primary lesion or chancre. Following the appearance of this primary lesion, comes another variable period of constitutional symptoms (second incubation period), at the end of which period the early (and secondary) eruption becomes manifest. Even if no treatment is administered, this eruption nearly always disappears, but it is followed by further eruptions after various latent periods, which continue to show themselves for many years. The periods when no symptoms are manifest are called latent periods.
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