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Disease Carriers

Bacteria: Treponema pallidum

Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum is the causative agent of syphilis; except for congenital syphilis, sexual contact accounts for virtually all cases of the disease. Despite the availability of effective therapy (penicillin), syphilis remains a commonly sexually transmitted disease worldwide (more than 7,000 cases were reported in the United States in 2003). Untreated syphilis can result in significant neurological and cardiovascular disease.

Treponema pallidum

Light microscope pictures showing tissue infected with the spirochete Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. The left micrograph shows cell infiltration in the tissue; on the right spirochetes visualized by silver staining.

A scanning electron micrograph of T. pallidum

A scanning electron micrograph of T. pallidum

Learn more about syphilis.