Term Paper: Symptoms and Psychosocial

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[. . .] D. 1500. A third possibility is that syphilis developed in both hemispheres from the related diseases bejel and yaws. New studies by paleopathologists Bruce and Christine Rothschild favor a New World origin (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html)."

There have also been medieval and ancient references to a disease that strongly resembles syphilis however, the recorded incidences are not accurate enough to definitively call it syphilis (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html).

Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century A.D. references to "venereal leprosy" may also indicate syphilis because leprosy is not sexually transmitted. But the first unambiguous descriptions of syphilis begin around 1500. These may either reflect growing medical knowledge and ability to differentiate syphilis from other diseases or signal its arrival from the New World (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html)."

There have been several historic studies for the determination of the disease age and origin. In one study there were almost 700 skeletons from archaeological sites dug up and examined. The skeletons ranged in age from 400 to 6,000 years old. "Populations to the south (New Mexico, Florida, and Ecuador) proved to have syphilis, while those to the north (Ohio, Illinois, and Virginia) had yaws (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html).By contrast, examination of 1,000 Old World skeletons dated to before contact with the New World revealed no cases of syphilis (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html).This suggests that syphilis was first present in the New World and was later brought to the Old World. Furthermore, the Rothschilds found that the earliest yaws cases in the New World collections were at least 6,000 years old, while the first syphilis cases were at least 800 years old and perhaps more than 1,600 years old (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html).This suggests that syphilis may be a New World mutation of yaws, which has a worldwide distribution. The occurrence of the same mutation giving rise to syphilis independently in the New and Old worlds seems unlikely (ORIGINS OF SYPHILIS (http://www.archaeology.org/9701/newsbriefs/syphilis.html)."

One of the most wide spread and historically significant periods of syphilis was the epidemic of the early 19th century. From 1880 to 1916 a syphilis epidemic swept through London and refused to be contained by standard measures (The Great Scourge': Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Lesley A. Hall (http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/grtscrge.htm).

This particular epidemic was important for two reasons, moral and scientific. The moral implications of syphilis had become accepted at this time. Those who committed adultery, or failed to remain chaste until their wedding day were apt to reveal their moral lacking to the world when they would contract syphilis. In addition the spread of the disease was a harsh and bleak reminder as to the limitations of the field of medicine.

In particular, the state of knowledge about syphilis in the ultimate decades of the nineteenth century was conducive to pessimism, if not medical nihilism. In the mid-century the great French syphilologist Philippe Ricord had promoted a basically optimistic model of syphilis as limited, treatable and controllable (The Great Scourge': Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Lesley A. Hall (http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/grtscrge.htm).This was a view which ever-developing standards of clinical observation which made increasing efforts to determine patient's full medical histories, and the rise of morbid pathology, no longer made tenable. Ricord's pupil and heir to his mantle, Alfred Fournier, was accused of seeing syphilis everywhere and took a very gloomy view as to its wide prevalence and lack of curability. Preventive measures, he felt, were probably the only solution (The Great Scourge': Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Lesley A. Hall (http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/grtscrge.htm)."


Syphilis is one of the oldest sexually transmitted diseases in the world. The disease is difficult because the beginning stages are not always noticeable or bothersome enough for someone to seek medical attention. This is compounded by the fact that the various stages produce different stages and there can be large amounts of time between the stages. Syphilis has undergone a transformation because where it used to be incurable and was fatal to those who did enter the serious stages it is not treatable and curable through the use of antibiotics. Syphilis is still one of the most serious stds because of its ability to appear to come and go when it is actually laying dormant between stages. It is important to maintain a high level of awareness and provide education to students in the transmission and symptoms of syphilis if the world wants to avoid the epidemics of the past.


From mercury to malaria to penicillin: The history of the treatment of syphilis at the Mayo Clinic, 1916-1955 by Jeffrey S. Sartin, MD and Harold O. Perry, MD http://www.imsdocs.com/syphilis.htm

The Great Scourge': Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916

Lesley A. Hall http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/grtscrge.htm



Syphilis What is syphilis? http://www.sexhealth.org/std/syphilis.shtml [END OF PREVIEW]

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