The Myth of Syphilis: The Natural History of Treponematosis by Mary Lucas Powell, Della Collins Cook PDF

By Mary Lucas Powell, Della Collins Cook

ISBN-10: 0813027942

ISBN-13: 9780813027944

Exploring the long-standing query of the origins of syphilis, this publication proposes a brand new knowing of the dynamic interactions of sickness and tradition within the New global. It brings jointly an entire photo of the varied pathological proof of a bacterial disease--treponematosis--manifest within the North American archaeological list on the time of Christopher Columbus's first trip, and it offers a powerful argument opposed to the sooner identity of recent venereal syphilis with indigenous North American treponemal disease.

            for nearly 500 years, local North american citizens were blamed for "giving the realm syphilis" and by way of implication accused of sexual immorality. individuals to this quantity determine and examine the origins and diverse manifestations of all levels of treponemal illnesses around the continent and convey that the real photo of affliction evolution is either diverse and much extra fascinating than previous scholarship indicates. They summarize present archaeological and old details from quite a few areas and occasions, either prior to and after 1492, and examine heavily the categorical query of even if proof exists for the presence of the venereal type of treponemal illness that may be similar to the venereal syphilis that ravaged 16th-century Europe. Their research demanding situations the unequivocal identity of all pre-Columbian treponemal disorder as venereal syphilis and exhibits that endemic treponemal affliction was once current at various degrees all through North the USA for a minimum of millennia ahead of the past due 15th-century trans-Atlantic voyages of discovery.


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Extra info for The Myth of Syphilis: The Natural History of Treponematosis in North America

Example text

In medicine and in paleopathology, a narrowly positivistic approach to evidence for disease is the norm; nevertheless, we should keep in mind that historical accounts of treponematoses are products of their social context, and so are paleopathologists’ accounts of ancient peoples.

Surprisingly, the European physicians who treated the first victims and penned the first descriptions of this new disease did not immediately associate its appearance with Columbus’s landing on the island of Hispaniola in 1492 and his subsequent return to Spain in 1493. Explanations abounded, among them that the disease was “the result of the intercourse of a leprous knight and a courtesan, or of the coupling of men and monkeys, or of the vengeful Spaniards mixing lepers’ blood with Greek wine, or of the Neapolitans treacherously poisoning wells at the time of the French invasion” (Quétel 1990:33).

Hudson emphatically believed that this new pattern of infection reflected changed human behavior, not a changed pathogen: It is inaccurate to state that this created a “venereal parasite,” or replaced a nonvenereal with a venereal one. Since to the spirochete the human body was a suitable host, it did not matter whether it entered through the skin, the mouth, or the genitals. . It was simply that—in a relatively clean and clothed society—coitus in practical terms became the only personal contact of sufficient intimacy to permit transmission of treponemes.

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The Myth of Syphilis: The Natural History of Treponematosis in North America by Mary Lucas Powell, Della Collins Cook

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