Syphilis: the international challenge of the great imitator

Dermatol Clin. 2008 Apr;26(2):191-202, v. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2007.12.001.


Syphilis is a systemic disease caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum. The name of this ancient but pervasive infection is proverbial to health care providers. The worldwide recognition of this term, however, argues with the intricacy of the disease in addition to the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges that persistently affect the global control of syphilis up to the present. This article focuses on the varied presentations of the infection, earning the title the "great imitator." The article also tackles other significant concerns regarding this malady.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Sex Education / organization & administration
  • Sex Work
  • Sexual Partners
  • Syphilis / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis / prevention & control
  • Syphilis / therapy*
  • Syphilis, Cutaneous / diagnosis
  • Syphilis, Cutaneous / therapy
  • Syphilis, Latent / diagnosis
  • Syphilis, Latent / therapy
  • Treponema pallidum / isolation & purification