Your Private GP and Sexual Health Clinic in Canary Wharf

Syphilis is becoming more prevalent again

Dr Wayne Cottrell:

  • Caused by infection with the Treponema pallidum bacteria passed on through sexual contact
  • Can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy
  • Several different stages of syphilis, early (primary, secondary and latent) and tertiary syphilis, depending on how long the person has been infected for
  • Syphilis can cause serious complications and needs to be treated
  • The earlier it is treated the easier it is to eradicate the infection

Primary, secondary and latent

  • The first symptom is usually a solitary, usually painless ulcer on genitals or mouth (chancre) which typically appears about 3 weeks post contact
  • This usually resolves over 3- 8 weeks
  • If this is missed it will progress to secondary syphilis
  • About 1-3 months after the chancre appears, it spreads through the body
  • Widespread mucocutaneous rash, usually non itchy and also visible on palms and soles
  • Condylomata lata around anus, perineum
  • During primary and secondary syphilis, people are highly infectious
  • Secondary syphilis symptoms usually resolve in 3 months after which patients enter the latent phase
  • During this stage people are not infectious but there can be reactivation of secondary disease in a quarter of patients


  • Develops in a about a third of untreated syphilis patients
  • 20-40 years after initial infection
  • Divided into gummatous, cardiovascular and neurological complications

Testing and Treatment

  • Blood tests or PCR swab from infected lesion
  • Penicillin injection, the number of injections will depend on the stage of the disease you are in
  • Further treatment may be required, if you have had the infection for a long period of time
  • Oral antibiotics for patients with penicillin allergy
Dr Wayne Cottrell will be back in the clinic from 18 October and the clinic will be open every weekday from that date

Canada Place Shopping Mall
34 North Colonnade
Canary Wharf
E14 5HX

0203 197 9100

Monday: 11:00-17:30
Tuesday: 11:00-17:30
Wednesday: 09:30-17:30
Thursday: 11:00-14.30
Friday: 11:00-13.30
Saturday: 11:30-15:00