Syphilis: surveillance, data and management

The diagnosis, management, surveillance and epidemiology of syphilis.

Syphilis is a sexually acquired infection caused by a bacteria-like spirochete Treponema pallidum.

Syphilis can be transmitted between partners during sexual intercourse and from an infected pregnant woman across the placenta to a developing baby.

Infection during pregnancy may result in miscarriage, stillbirth or a congenitally infected baby. Maternal infection is detectable and treatable which prevents transmission to the baby.

Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. If syphilis is left untreated, it can cause serious health problems, including heart, brain and nerve problems.

For symptoms and general information on syphilis, visit NHS.UK.

Data collection and epidemiology

From 2020, the surveillance of congenital syphilis has become part of the Infectious Diseases in Pregnancy Screening Programme. Data are being collected through the Integrated Screening Outcomes Surveillance Service (ISOSS) to allow the infectious diseases in pregnancy screening (IDPS) to monitor performance, review all positive cases and identify new areas for further audit and research.

Diagnosis and management

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) issues UK national guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and management of all sexually transmitted infections.

British HIV Association (BHIVA)

Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare

Research and analysis

Published 1 April 2013
Last updated 22 November 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on syphilis and added ‘Syphilis: quarterly data for England’.

  2. Added link to 'Tracking the syphilis epidemic in England' under Data collection and epidemiology section.

  3. Added 'Syphilis: Public Health England action plan'.

  4. First published.