1996 CDC Case Definition for Syphilis (Treponema pallidum)
Syphilis is a complex sexually transmitted disease that has a highly variable clinical course. Classification by a clinician with expertise in syphilis may take precedence over the following case definitions developed for surveillance purposes.
Clinical description: A stage of infection with Treponema pallidum characterized by one or more chancres (ulcers); chancres might differ considerably in clinical appearance.
Laboratory criteria for diagnosis: Demonstration of T. pallidum in clinical specimens by darkfield microscopy, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA-TP), or equivalent methods.
Clinical description: A stage of infection caused by T. pallidum and characterized by localized or diffuse mucocutaneous lesions, often with generalized lymphadenopathy. The primary chancre may still be present.
Laboratory criteria for diagnosis: Demonstration of T. pallidum in clinical specimens by darkfield microscopy, DFA-TP, or equivalent methods
Clinical description: A stage of infection caused by T. pallidum in which organisms persist in the body of the infected person without causing symptoms or signs. Latent syphilis is subdivided into early, late, and unknown categories based on the duration of infection.
Probable: no clinical signs or symptoms of syphilis and the presence of one of the following:
Syphilis, early latent
Clinical description: A subcategory of latent syphilis. When initial infection has occurred within the previous 12 months, latent syphilis is classified as early latent.
Probable: latent syphilis in a person who has evidence of having acquired the infection within the previous 12 months based on one or more of the following criteria:
Syphilis, late latent
Clinical description: A subcategory of latent syphilis. When initial infection has occurred greater than 1 year previously, latent syphilis is classified as late latent.
Probable: latent syphilis (see Syphilis, latent) in a patient who has no evidence of having acquired the disease within the preceding 12 months (see Syphilis, early latent) and whose age and titer do not meet the criteria specified for latent syphilis of unknown duration.
Syphilis, latent, of unknown duration
Clinical description: A subcategory of latent syphilis. When the date of initial infection cannot be established as having occurred within the previous year and the patient's age and titer meet criteria described below, latent syphilis is classified as latent syphilis of unknown duration.
Clinical description: Evidence of central nervous system infection with T. pallidum
Laboratory criteria for diagnosis: A reactive serologic test for syphilis and reactive VDRL in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
Probable: syphilis of any stage, a negative VDRL in CSF, and both the following:
Confirmed: syphilis of any stage that meets the laboratory criteria for neurosyphilis
Syphilis, late, with clinical manifestations other than neurosyphilis (late benign syphilis and cardiovascular syphilis)
Clinical description: Clinical manifestations of late syphilis other than neurosyphilis may include inflammatory lesions of the cardiovascular system, skin, and bone. Rarely, other structures (e.g., the upper and lower respiratory tracts, mouth, eye, abdominal organs, reproductive organs, lymph nodes, and skeletal muscle) may be involved. Late syphilis usually becomes clinically manifest only after a period of 15-30 years of untreated infection.
Laboratory criteria for diagnosis: Demonstration of T. pallidum in late lesions by fluorescent antibody or special stains (although organisms are rarely visualized in late lesions)
Comment: Analysis of CSF for evidence of neurosyphilis is necessary in the evaluation of late syphilis with clinical manifestations.
Clinical case definition: A fetal death that occurs after a 20-week gestation or in which the fetus weighs greater than 500 g and the mother had untreated or inadequately treated* syphilis at delivery
Comment: For reporting purposes, syphilitic stillbirths should be reported as cases of congenital syphilis.
*Inadequate treatment consists of any non-penicillin therapy or penicillin given less than 30 days before delivery.
Created: Mar 02, 2008