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Chameleons everywhere
  1. Katharina Sprenger1,
  2. Hansjakob Furrer2
  1. 1Department of Emergency, Hirslandenklinik Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  2. 2Institut für Infektionskrankheiten, Universitätsspital Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katharina Sprenger, kat.sprenger{at}


We report the case of an HIV-infected man returning from Thailand with secondary syphilis with general symptoms, hepatitis and a pulmonary mass lesion. A cerebrospinal fluid examination showed no signs of neurosyphilis. Two months after successful treatment with benzathine penicillin he presented with a mass lesion in the brain suspected to be a glioma or glioblastoma, which turned out to be a syphilitic gumma. Syphilis remains a great imitator in clinical medicine. Syphilitic brain gummata can develop within a few months.

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