A Brief History of Syphilis

Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted disease that has been well known to medical literature for a long time.

While the exact timeline of the disease is not available, historians agree that its knowledge dates back at least a few hundred years.

The origins of Syphilis are quite obscure with historians divided on the subjects. There are two theories regarding the origins of Syphilis.

The first one has to do with the voyages of Christopher Columbus, where it is thought that the disease was brought back to Europe from the new world by the crew members that he had hired. The disease is then thought to have spread all across Europe and beyond. This theory is referred to as the ‘Columbian’ hypothesis.

The second one states that the disease had already existed in societies across Europe, but never recognized as a disease by the medical establishment at that time. It is stated that the disease was likely never given the due recognition that it deserved, as a result of a lack of scientific understanding and medical documentation. It is likely that the disease, due to its characteristic symptoms of causing skin-related problems all over the body, was recognized merely as a general skin disorder, as opposed to a major sexually transmitted disease. This theory is referred to as the ‘Pre-Columbian’ hypothesis.

The very first written record of the disease goes back to the year 1494/1495, in Naples Italy. This refers to the French invasion of Naples, where its first large scale spread across society was reported. Syphilis then got the title of ‘the French disease’, since it was spread in society by returning French troops. It wasn’t until 1530 that the disease got its official name by an Italian physician and poet named GirolamoFracastoro.

Coming to the causative agent, it wasn’t until 1905 that the disease-causing organism was first discovered. The credit of the discovery goes to Erich Hoffmann and Fritz Schaudinn, who demonstrated through their research that the disease was being caused by the organism Treponemapallidum.

It would take a while more for the disease to get adequate methods of treatment, primarily though the usage of Asphenamine, developed by Paul Ehrlich in 1910. Subsequent research revealed that the disease was curable through the usage of Penicillin in 1943.

The disease has today become quite prevalent all the world. Regardless of the way in which the disease started or how it spread across the entire world, it has become a major public health issue.

It is in fact one of the most well known of all the STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases, often commending a great amount of awareness and effort in order to combat it.

As a whole, Syphilis happens to be one of the most rampant of all the sexually transmitted diseases that are currently prevalent in society.

While they do lag behind other diseases in terms of absolute numbers and infection rates, depending on the region, they are a major threat to public health that must be dealt with.

It is therefore important that there exist a proper system to spread awareness among the population and focus on ways to rid society of its scourge.

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