[Question #659] Syphilis Risk

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97 months ago
Hello Doctors, almost 5 years ago I had a one night exposure with a female CSW in NYC. We had protected vanginal and unprotected oral sex. A few days later I developed a few small white bumps on my lips which my doctor thought was herpes so I was given valtrex. About two weeks after exposure I developed groin pains but no urination issues. Three weeks after exposure I was prescribed amoxicillin for a sore throat (10 days), About 2 months after exposure I was given 2g of Zithromax, 400mg of Suprex for possible ngu and was put on Cipro for 10 days for possible prostatitis until I could get into a urologist. At four months I was prescribed biaxin 10 days for a sinus infection. At five months a urologist prescribed Cipro for 30 days for prostatitis and then doxycline for 10 days followed by 7 days after a 7 day period also for prostatitis. About a year later I developed a rash on my back which hurt and went away in about 7-10 days which my doctor said was shingles, 4 and a half years later I have developed tinnitus and some hearing loss, Syphilis was never checked for, is it possible that I could have developed syphilis and the meds that I received did not treat it? (The Internet can be a terrible thing when googling symptoms!)

I appreciate any thoughts you might have.
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Edward W. Hook M.D.
97 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be pleased to provide an assessment.  The likelihood that your current ( or past) symptoms were due to syphilis are vanishingly low for a number of reasons including:
1.  That syphilis is a rare disease, even in commercial sex workers.
2.  Even if she had syphilis, most single exposures do not lead to infection.
3.  Your genital sex was condom protected and acquisition of syphilis from oral sex is very, very rare.
4.  Several of the medications you have taken, including amoxicillin, azithromycin, doxycycline, and Suprax are highly active against  syphilis.
5.  The symptoms you describe are not particularly suggestive of syphilis despite the listing of things such as skin rash and hearing loss being on the very long list of non- specific things that syphilis can cause.

Having said that, I am also aware of the suggestive power of the Internet.  A syphilis blood test would be positive if your symptoms were due to untreated syphilis.  Since you are concerned, if the facts I have provided are insufficient, then I would suggest a syphilis blood test to put the matter to rest.  If you do choose to test, I am confident the test result will be negative,
I hope my comments are helpful. EWH