Syphilis History of

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Syphilis History Of

If you were to take a look at our World's history there are many people who have stood out above all others, some for their philosophy, astronomy, or religion. There are also the places that have had significant impact on the world. The Middle East and China for example have had rich and extended history. The one area of history that most people overlook as we travel back in time are the diseases' that have devastated our population. One disease that I would like to talk about is Treponema Pallidum. It has been written about, debated over, and has affected every culture it has come into contact with. This is the corkscrew shaped bacteria responsible for the infection that we call syphilis (United States Naval Flight Surgeon's Manual, 1991). The purpose of this paper is to look at were syphilis originated, how it spread and how it was treated.

The first unquestionable epidemic of syphilis occurred in Europe at the end of the 15th century (Arrizabalaga, 1997). With this first epidemic, came the first chorus of blames. Travelers were blamed, prostitutes were blamed, soldiers were blamed, and of course Columbus was blamed. The Muscovites called syphilis the Polish sickness. The Poles called it the German sickness (Gugliotta, 2000).

One hypothesis assumes a New World origin, and holds that sailors who accompanied Columbus and other explorers brought the disease back to Europe. Another explanation is that syphilis was always present in the Old World but was not identified as a separate disease from leprosy before about AD 1500. A third possibility is that syphilis developed in both hemispheres from the related diseases bejel and yaws (Rose, 1997). New studies by paleopathologists Bruce and Christine Rothschild favor a New World origin. They examined 687 skeletons from archaeological sites in the United States and Ecuador ranging in age from 400 to 6,000 years (Rose, 1997). Populations to the south (New Mexico, Florida...
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