Syphilis is caused by the Treponema pallidum bacterium. As soon as it is there in the body, it gradually starts affecting all organs. At the same time, Treponema dies outside of the organism very quickly. Disinfectants, detergents and even ordinary sunlight produce a destructive impact on it. This bacterium can survive for a long time only in moist conditions and when frozen. Infection is transmitted not only through sexual, but also non-sexual contact, and at advanced stages it can provoke irreversible disorders of the nervous system, bone structure we well as of the skin. Earlier, the congenital forms of this disease were often diagnosed, meaning that the child was infected already in the womb. There were records of cases of infection with the blood transfusion from a sick person. These days such kind of infection is very rare. Pregnant women must make a test, and the blood before a transfusion is carefully checked for all infections.
The disease develops in 4 periods:
- incubation – asymptomatic, lasts 3-4 weeks on the average;
- primary – the formation of a solid chancre or an ulcer;
- secondary – develops wen the disease is ignored, lasts from 9 weeks to 5 years. At this stage it is very contagious. The most common symptom is extensive rashes on the skin and mucous membranes;
- tertiary – when all body systems are affected, and in 25% of cases this stage ends up with a lethal outcome.
The disease manifests itself not immediately and in different forms – early or late, primary, secondary or tertiary, so two main methods are used for an accurate diagnosis: serological and rule-out.
The serological method involves the examination of blood, cerebrospinal fluid and material obtained during a biopsy.
The rule-out method is based on comparison with the manifestations of skin diseases, diseases of the visual organs, the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Often symptoms of syphilis are mimicking other diseases. But when it is correctly diagnosed its treatment proceeds quickly and successfully.
Remember, the disease is contagious, even if only a few days have passed since the infecting. The rapid test for syphilis will help to detect the disease in the primary period – after the formation of a solid chancre.
Depending on the type of examination, the blood can be taken from a vein or from a finger. Some studies are preferably to be performed on an empty stomach, for others it is enough not to eat 4 hours before biomaterial sampling. The material for detecting Treponema DNA should better be collected before antibiotic therapy begins. Cerebrospinal fluid is taken only in a hospital in a sterile container. Scraping of the mucous membranes, as well as of the surface of the skin or eye does not require special preparation. It can be taken by a doctor or a laboratory specialist. Women, before taking an analysis for syphilis from the vagina, are recommended to refrain from douching, sexual intercourse, diagnostic gynecological manipulations for at least two days.
All types of tests are conventionally divided into two groups: non-treponemal and treponemal.
RPR / microprecipitation reaction is a non-treponemal syphilis test, to detect cardiolipin antibodies produced in the patient's body in the primary infection stage. When evaluating the results, only a total response is given, that is, the classification of antigens is not established.
Treponemal tests, allowing to identify antibodies to a specific causative agent of syphilis are more reliable. Based on the test results the disease stage is determined with maximum accuracy.
Today it is possible to perform tests both at home and in a laboratory.
In order to get reliable results of the syphilis test at home, the following precautions should be observed:
- It is not recommended to drink alcohol one day before the analysis.
- It is not allowed to smoke for half an hour before the test.
- The analysis should be carried out on an empty stomach in the morning.
- Before carrying out the syphilis test, thoroughly wash your hands using antibacterial soap.
- The Test set should have a room temperature.
- Open the packaging immediately before the test, when everything is ready.
- The extracted syphilis test strip should be placed on an even, clean and dry horizontal surface.
- Prior to the blood sampling, the finger should be carefully rubbed the alcohol wipe.
To obtain the most accurate test results in the laboratory, the following precautions should be observed:
- Do not smoke, do not drink, and do not eat close to samples and test devices.
- Do not use the test if its packaging is damaged.
- It should be remembered that humidity and temperature can affect the test results.
- All samples should be treated as infectious materials.
- It is necessary to observe the established safety measures and follow the standards for the destruction of samples.
- For personal safety when working with samples, wear a robe, gloves and glasses.
The Syphilis test is a set of reagents designed to detect the presence of antibodies to Treponema pallidum in the human blood by performing immunochromatographic analysis at home. The test result is based on the reaction of the analyzed sample to the cardiolipin antigen, which is an alcohol extract from the muscles of the bovine heart, used in the serodiagnosis.
A positive reaction indicates the presence of a pale treponema in the patient's body and requires an immediate reference to the venereologist. A negative reaction to the antigen indicates that the person does not have the sickness. Designed for home use, rapid tests are highly accurate. The probability of obtaining the correct result reaches 99%.
How to use syphilis test?
Open the vacuum package with the indicator, cutting it along the contour line. The tray should be placed on the horizontal working surface with the syphilis test side up.
Wipe the upper phalanx of the finger, from which it is planned to draw blood for analysis, with the alcohol wipe.
Then puncture the finger with the lancet. Before puncturing it is recommended to massage the finger lightly, thus increasing the flow of blood to it.
The patient's blood flowing at the site of the puncture is pipetted into the circular cell of the indicator (in most Syphilis test sets it is marked with the letter S). For the syphilis test it is enough to use 50 ml of blood. When sampling the material, make sure that air bubbles do not enter it. The finger after the puncture should be re-wiped with an alcohol wipe.
Then it is necessary to squeeze out 2 drops of reagent into a cell with blood. This completes the testing procedure. Interpretation of its results is carried out in 10-20 minutes. The result, which appeared on the indicator in half an hour, should not be taken into account.
So in 10-20 minutes the patient has to check the test area located on the surface of the indicator. Interpretation of the syphilis test results is carried out as follows:
- 2 parallel lines of red color near the letters “C” and “T” confirm the presence of syphilis;
- one red strip at the level of the letter “C” denies the fact of infection with a venereal disease.
If the rapid test showed one red strip near the letter “T”, then the analysis was made with errors and the result cannot be correctly interpreted. An incorrect procedure is also indicated by the absence of control lines in the test area. In such cases, to obtain a reliable result, it is recommended to purchase a new syphilis test and undergo the procedure again.
However, it should be remembered that a test for syphilis at home cannot be used to diagnosing and prescribing treatment.
In order to confirm the fact of infection of the patient, who saw on the test area of the indicator 2 strips, it is needed to consult a venereologist and undergo an additional examination. In case of laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis, the patient will be prescribed therapy aimed against of Treponema pallidum.
Even despite the accuracy of this method of research, home rapid tests can give false results. This happens most often due to the following reasons:
- Non-compliance with the instructions (for example, improper collection of biological material).
- The result is evaluated before or after the specified time.
- Overdue Test set (in this case it will not show a control strip).
- Insufficient amount of biological material (if the liquid does not spread on the test strip, you cannot use the test repeatedly, i.e. add material).
- The test was performed too early (in the blood or saliva there are no antigens and antibodies yet).
It is also unacceptable for other liquids, for example, water to get on the test strip. Therefore, carefully examine the test before use. The strip of new tests should be perfectly white and, if it is slightly changed in color, the result may be false. Be sure to check the cleanliness of the lancets used and observe all disinfection measures when puncturing the finger.
The rapid tests appeared long ago, they can be bought freely in pharmacies, but the attitude of doctors to such diagnostics is contradictory. On the one hand, complete anonymity and confidentiality (the result and the fact of the test itself becomes known only to the patient), which, accordingly, should give confidence to everybody. On the other hand, the probability of obtaining both false positive and false negative results is high. You should be aware that improper performance and evaluation of the test may result in unpredictable behavior of the patient.
Based on the syphilis test result, you cannot make a diagnosis. The result obtained at home cannot be presented to the doctor as proof or refutation of the disease. Let me remind you that only the doctor has the right to make the diagnosis, and the test result, sometimes, needs to be checked and cross-checked. So, if a person decided to make such an independent testing, remember that the result is not a diagnosis. In case of any doubts, we recommend that you seek qualified medical help.
Dan: I did a test for syphilis at home using the Syphilis Test. Before buying, I read a lot of information, whether it is worth to trust to such tests, and how effective they are. I had to use this test because of accidental sexual contact. Of course, after the test I wanted to be sure and went for blood examination at the lab. As a result, the analysis showed no infection, both with the Test and in the lab. So, I trust this test.