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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2001 Aug;40(4):163-6.

Amplification of the DNA polymerase I gene of Treponema pallidum from whole blood of persons with syphilis.

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Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Previous reports suggest that Treponema pallidum bacteremia occurs in persons with syphilis exposure ('incubating syphilis') and in persons with primary or secondary syphilis. During a recent syphilis outbreak, whole blood samples from 32 persons with suspected syphilis or syphilis exposure were screened using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the DNA polymerase I gene (polA) of T. pallidum. Of the 32 samples, polA was amplified from 13 (41%). Of these 13, three were determined to have incubating syphilis; two had primary or secondary syphilis and eight had latent syphilis. This study demonstrates that spirochetemia can occur throughout the course of T. pallidum infection.

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