CHAPTER-12 THE GREAT POX SYPHILIS
Tuskegee Study: 399 black men were enlisted and were told they had “bad blood”, and rejected
treatment even when penicillin came into use in 1947. This study symbolized racism in medicine, ethical
misconduct in medical research and government abuse of society’s most vulnerable.
A look back:
- disease swept across Europe and rest of world starting from 1493.
- claim is that this diease was brought to Naples by Spanish troops sent to support Alphonso II of Naples
against French king Charles VII. Within 5 years of its arrival in Europe, the disease was epidemic.
- French called it “disease of Naples” blaming Italians, while Italians called it “the French disease”.
- How did Charles men contracted the disease?
1. Columbian theory: Upon arrival of Columbus on Spain, some of its crew joined army of
Charles and could have carried it to Europe.
2. Pre-columbian theory: Syphilis present in Europe for thousands of years. Disease could have
existed in Europe and Asia in milder form prior to 1493 but then it changed and become
- Exactly how and when syphilis arose continues to be debated.
- By 1600s, the great pox was extremely dangerous infection, but those who were afflicted did not suffer
the acute attacks that had been seen in the 1500s. By 1800s, both the virulence of pathogen and the
number of cases declined.
Q. What produced this dramatic outbreak of syphilis?
1. Mercury was administered “salvation”
2. Guaiacum (hold wood) resin.
Spirochete Discovered (Treponema pallidum):
Girolamo Fracastoro recognised that disease was contagious, called it syphilis, described early stages,
theorized it is result of “seed of contagion”.
Fritz Schaudinn and Erich Hoffmann identified slender, spiral shaped bacterium spirochete.
Hideyo Noguchi isolated the same bacterium from brains of patients suffering from insanity and
- Can be grown in lab animals rabbits and guinea pigs. Humans are the only natural hosts of treponema
- Syphilis was confused with gonorrhoea one of the reasons it took so long to identify the cause of
The Disease Syphilis:
“Venereal” refers to “Roman goddess of