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Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2009 Sep 1;14(9):e416-20.

The reappearance of a forgotten disease in the oral cavity: syphilis.

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Faculty of Dentistry, University of Barcelona, Spain.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) produced by Treponema pallidum, which mainly affects humans and is able to invade practically any organ in the body. Its infection facilitates the transmission of other STDs. Since the end of the last decade, successive outbreaks of syphilis have been reported in most western European countries. Like other STDs, syphilis is a notifiable disease in the European Union. In Spain, epidemiological information is obtained nationwide via the country's system for recording notifiable diseases (Spanish acronym EDO) and the national microbiological information system (Spanish acronym SIM), which compiles information from a network of 46 sentinel laboratories in twelve Spanish regions. The STDs that are epidemiologically controlled are gonococcal infection, syphilis, and congenital syphilis. The incidence of each of these diseases is recorded weekly. The information compiled indicates an increase in the cases of syphilis and gonococcal infection in Spain in recent years. According to the EDO, in 1999, the number of cases of syphilis per 100,000 inhabitants was recorded to be 1.69, which has risen to 4.38 in 2007. In this article, we review the reappearance and the evolution of this infectious disease in eight European countries, and alert dentists to the importance of a) diagnosing sexually-transmitted diseases and b) notifying the centres that control them.

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