NOTE: A surveillance case definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define a disease for public health surveillance. Surveillance case definitions enable public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. Surveillance case definitions are not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.

CSTE Position Statement(s)

  • 09-ID-62


  • Syphilis, primary
  • Syphilis, congenital
  • Syphilis, secondary
  • Syphilis, latent
  • Syphilis, early latent
  • Syphilis, late latent
  • Syphilis, latent unknown duration
  • Neurosyphilis
  • Syphilis, late, with clinical manifestations other than neurosyphilis
  • Syphilitic stillbirth


Syphilis is a complex sexually transmitted disease that has a highly variable clinical course. Classification by a clinician with expertise in syphilis may take precedence over the following case definitions developed for surveillance purposes.

Subtype(s) Case Definition


The 1996 case definition appearing on this page was re-published in the 2009 CSTE position statement 09-ID-62 (available at URL). Thus, the 1996 and 2010 versions of the case definition are identical.


  1. Doris JP, Saha K, Jones NP, Sukthankar A. Ocular syphilis: the new epidemic. Eye (Lond). 2006 Jun;20(6):703-5. Epub 2005 Jun 3.
  2. Sparling, PF, Swartz, MN, Musher, DM, Healy, BP. Clinical Manifestations of Syphilis. In Holmes, KK, Sparling, PF, Stamm, WE, Piot, P, Wasserheit, J, Corey, L, Cohen, MS, Watts, DH (eds). Sexually Transmitted Diseases (4th ed). McGraw Medical: New York City, NY (2008), pp. 661–684.
  3. Tramont, EC. Treponema pallidum (Syphilis). In Mandell, GL, Bennett, JE, Dolin, R (eds). Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases (5th ed). Churchill Livingstone: Philadelphia, PA (2000), pp. 2474–2490.

Related Case Definition(s)

Page last reviewed: April 16, 2021