Congenital syphilis: subtle presentation of fulminant disease

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997 Feb;36(2 Pt 2):351-4. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(97)80415-x.


The incidence of congenital syphilis has experienced a fourfold to fivefold increase in 6 years. It is a completely preventable disease whose clinical spectrum ranges from asymptomatic infection, to fulminant sepsis, to death. Congenital syphilis was diagnosed in a 6-week-old infant whose mother was negative for the disease by prenatal screen. The otherwise well child presented with a generalized, papulosquamous eruption of 3 weeks' duration but within hours multisystem failure developed from overwhelming treponemal sepsis. Factors related to increased incidence, problems in serodiagnosis, manifestations of the early versus late forms of the disease, and recommendations for evaluation and treatment are illustrated by this patient and are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Hemofiltration
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Penicillin G / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Syphilis, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Syphilis, Congenital / therapy


  • Penicillin G