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Diseases » Syphilis » Contagiousness

Is Syphilis Contagious?

Transmission of Syphilis from Person to Person

Syphilis is considered to be contagious between people. Generally the infectious agent may be transmitted by saliva, air, cough, fecal-oral route, surfaces, blood, needles, blood transfusions, sexual contact, mother to fetus, etc.
Syphilis, although infectious, is not a genetic disease. It is not caused by a defective or abnormal gene.
The contagious disease, Syphilis, can be transmitted:

  • by sexual conduct between people.
  • from the mother to her fetus.

Contagion summary:

Sexually transmitted; only contagious in the early stages. Also mother to fetus. Rare contagion from oozing fluid exposure into broken skin. No longer contagious 24 hours after beginning antibiotic therapy.

Contagiousness properties for Syphilis:

  Contagious overall?: Yes

  Contagious by sex?: Yes

  Contagious by anal sex?: Yes

  Contagious by vaginal sex?: Yes

  Contagious by physical contact (non-sexual)?: Yes, rarely.

  Contagious from mother to fetus (transplacental)?: Yes

Discussion about Contagion of Syphilis:

There is no evidence at this time that gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia is sexually transmitted between women who are sexually active with women, but large studies have not been done. The majority of lesbian women are sexually exclusive with women (although 90% have been heterosexually active at some time): however, there are some lesbians who do have male partners, and this subpopulation of lesbians are at risk for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. (Source: excerpt from Lesbian-Health: NWHIC_1)

About contagion and contagiousness:

Contagion and contagiousness refers to how easily the spread of Syphilis is possible from one person to another. Other words for contagion include "infection", "infectiousness", "transmission" or "transmissability". Contagiousness has nothing to do with genetics or inheriting diseases from parents. For an overview of contagion, see Introduction to Contagion.


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