December 27, Shown above, a statue of Columbus in Lavagna, Genova, Italy. New skeletal evidence suggests Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but brought back syphilis as well, researchers say.
Origin[ edit ] The history of syphilis has been well studied, but the origin of the disease remains unknown. News of it spread quickly and widely, and documentation is abundant. For the time, it was "front page news" that was widely known among the literate. It is also the first disease to be widely recognized as sexually transmitted, and it was taken as indicative of the moral state sexual behavior of the peoples in which it was found.
Its geographic origin and moral significance were debated as had never been the case with any other illness. European countries blamed it on each other. Somewhat later, when the significance of the Western Hemisphere was perceived, it has been used in both pro- and anti-colonial discourse. If it existed in the Western Hemisphere and was brought to Europe by European explorers, it demonstrated the moral inferiority of the Native Americans, and their need for European civilization and Christianity.
If it was brought to the Americas by Europeans, a position no longer defended by researchers, it was the great symbol of destructive imperialism. The origin of syphilis is unknown. There is strong evidence that syphilis was present among the indigenous peoples of the Americas before Europeans traveled to and from the New World.
Upon arrival in the Old World, the bacterium, which was similar to modern day yaws, responded to new selective pressures with the eventual birth of the subspecies of sexually transmitted syphilis. According to this appraisal, "Skeletal evidence that reputedly showed signs of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his voyage in does not hold up when subjected to standardized analyses for diagnosis and dating, according to an appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology.
This is the first time that all 54 previously published cases have been evaluated systematically, and bolsters the case that syphilis came from the New World. Some scholars during the 18th and 19th centuries believed that the symptoms of syphilis in its tertiary form were described by Hippocrates in Classical Greece.
Owsleya physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institutionand other supporters of this idea, say that many medieval European cases of leprosycolloquially called lepra, were actually cases of syphilis.
However, these claims have not been submitted for peer reviewand the evidence that has been made available to other scientists is weak.
The evidence suggests that the disease existed in both hemispheres from prehistoric times. Crosby says that the bacterium that causes syphilis belongs to the same phylogenetic family as the bacteria that cause yaws and several other diseases. Despite the tradition of assigning the homeland of yaws to sub-Saharan AfricaCrosby notes that there is no unequivocal evidence of any related disease having been present in pre-Columbian Europe, Africa, or Asia.
Crosby writes, "It is not impossible that the organisms causing treponematosis arrived from America in the s He hypothesizes that "the differing ecological conditions produced different types of treponematosis and, in time, closely related but different diseases. According to biologist Marlene Zuk, "The origin of syphilis has always held an implied accusation: Here, the disease is believed to have astrological causes.
The first well-recorded European outbreak of what is now known as syphilis occurred in among French troops besieging NaplesItaly. Many of the crew members who served on this voyage later joined the army of King Charles VIII in his invasion of Italy inwhich some argue may have resulted in the spreading of the disease across Europe and as many as five million deaths.
He also stated clearly that the disease was previously unknown, and came from the island of Hispaniola modern Dominican Republic and Haiti. Syphilus is presented as the first man to contract the disease, sent by the god Apollo as punishment for the defiance that Syphilus and his followers had shown him.
In addition, the Dutch called it the "Spanish disease", the Russians called it the "Polish disease", and the Turks called it the "Christian disease" or "Frank Western European disease" frengi. These "national" names were generally reflective of contemporary political spite between nations and frequently served as a sort of propaganda; the Protestant Dutch, for example, fought and eventually won a war of independence against their Spanish Habsburg rulers who were Catholic, so referring to Syphilis as the "Spanish" disease reinforced a politically useful perception that the Spanish were immoral or unworthy.
However, the attributions are also suggestive of possible routes of the spread of the infection, at least as perceived by "recipient" populations. In its early stages, the great pox produced a rash similar to smallpox also known as variola. In Scotlandsyphilis was referred to as the Grandgore.
Such cosmetic replacements were sometimes used due to effects of the disease. An early technique for grafting tissue to surgically correct a nose defect. There were originally no effective treatments for syphilis, although a number of remedies were tried. In the infant stages of this disease in Europe, many ineffective and dangerous treatments were used.
The aim of treatment was to expel the foreign, disease-causing substance out of the body, so methods included blood-letting, laxative use, and baths in wine and herbs or olive oil. One of the first supporters of mercury treatment was Paracelsus because it had positive effects on the Arabic treatment of leprosy, which was thought to be a disease related to syphilis.
Unpleasant side effects of mercury treatment included gum ulcers and loose teeth. Afterthe Blatterhaus — an Augsburg municipal hospital for the syphilitic poor  — would administer guaiacum as a hot drink, followed by a sweating cure as the first treatment, and use mercury as the treatment of last resort.Columbus Introduced Syphilis to Europe.
The first known epidemic of syphilis occurred during the Renaissance in Initially its plague broke out . The former operated on the belief that syphilis was always present in Europe, possibly misdiagnosed as leprosy.
Although the surge may have been noticed after contact with the New World, this theory states that it is just a coincidence. The first recorded outbreak of syphilis in Europe occurred in / in Naples, Italy, during a French invasion.
Because it was spread by returning French troops, the disease was known as "French disease", and it was not until that the term "syphilis" was first applied by the Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro.
Introduction A syphilis epidemic has been spreading in the Eastern Region of Europe since the 90s, with differing extent and incidence rates in the individual countries. New skeletal evidence suggests Columbus and his crew not only introduced the Old World to the New World, but brought back syphilis as well, researchers say.
Syphilis – Its early history and Treatment until Penicillin and the Debate on its Origins. Because the Naples syphilis epidemic appeared two years after Columbus returned in from Hispaniola, the belief that Columbus’ crew had contacted the disease in the New World arose in the scholarly and medical literature by the early 16th.