Neurosyphilis is a disease of the coverings of the brain, the brain itself, or the spinal cord. It can occur in people with syphilis, especially if they are left untreated. Neurosyphilis is different from syphilis because it affects the nervous system, while syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease with different signs and symptoms. There are five types of neurosyphilis:
Asymptomatic neurosyphilis means that neurosyphilis is present, but the individual reports no symptoms and does not feel sick. Meningeal syphilis can occur between the first few weeks to the first few years of getting syphilis. Individuals with meningeal syphilis can have headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes there can also be loss of vision or hearing. Meningovascular syphilis causes the same symptoms as meningeal syphilis but affected individuals also have strokes. This form of neurosyphilis can occur within the first few months to several years after infection. General paresis can occur between 3 – 30 years after getting syphilis. People with general paresis can have personality or mood changes. Tabes dorsalis is characterized by pains in the limbs or abdomen, failure of muscle coordination, and bladder disturbances. Other signs include vision loss, loss of reflexes and loss of sense of vibration, poor gait, and impaired balance. Tabes dorsalis can occur anywhere from 5 – 50 years after initial syphilis infection. General paresis and tabes dorsalis are now less common than the other forms of neurosyphilis because of advances made in prevention, screening, and treatment. People with HIV/AIDS are at higher risk of having neurosyphilis.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supports and conducts research on neurodegenerative disorders,
such as neurosyphilis, in an effort to find ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure these disorders.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke supports and conducts research on neurodegenerative disorders, such as neurosyphilis, in an effort to find ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure these disorders.
|NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
Bethesda, MD 20892
|Centers for Disease Control and
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
1600 Clifton Road, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel: 800-311-3435 404-639-3311/404-639-3543
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
Last updated October 29, 2009