Contributor: Gordon K. Klintworth
After the primary infection of syphilis [syphilis - primary] Treponema pallidum becomes disseminated hematogenously to different parts of the body in secondary syphilis. In this highly contagious stage of syphilis the spirochete is found in high concentrations in lesions of the skin and mucous membranes. Spirochetes can be identified with special stains (such as the Warthin-Starry stain). An inflammatory reaction in which lymphocytes and plasma cells predominate may be granulomatous or non-granulomatous. The plasma cells tend to accumulate in a perivascular location. Necrosis is seldom found. Syphilis of the optic nerve occurs during the secondary stage.