Showing posts with label syphilis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syphilis. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 9 (1 of 2)

Fort Wadsworth D.T.
Nov. 9th, 1868

Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.

I have since my communication of the 5th uls. explored two Tumuli and obtained a few bones, very incomplete parts of a number of skeletons seventeen tibiae, twenty one femura etc, etc, but no crania. From one I obtained about a peck of decayed wood, which had been used in interring the bones. I propose to disinter the remains of a hostile Indian (Dakota) who died of syphilis while a prisoner during the “Outbrake” [sic]. I would respectfully inquire if you desire the specimens for the museum?

I have a “Medicine Bag,” (parflesh bag) the skin of an otter, which I purpose to contribute. I have been preparing a map, or rather designating the location of the tumula on the map of the reservation, which with a description of the location, from and structure of the mounds I shall forward hereafter.

May I inquire if the implements we shipped on the 5th ult. have reached you.

Very Respectfully
Your Obed’t Servt
A. J. Comfort

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: March 28 (2 of 2) - Leprosy? Or syphilis?

Treasury Department
Office of the Supervising Surgeon-General, M.H.S.
Washington, D.C., March 28th, 1895

To the Supervising Surgeon-General,
U.S. Marine Hospital Service,


I have the honor to make the following report on a specimen from a supposed case of leprosy, submitted for examination by Dr. C.O. Probst, Secretary of the Ohio State Board of Health.

The specimen presented for examination is a portion of the left hand, including the little and ring fingers. The entire member is thickened to about twice its natural size.

On the dorsum of the hand is an extensive superficial ulcer with sharply defined edge and irregular margin. At the wrist the ulceration has extended deeply through the tissues, amputating the hand at this point. A similar process seems to have affected the tip of the ring finger.

Sections were made and studied from seven different places. Four were taken from the edge of the ulcer, two from its center, and one through the skin and thickened subcutaneous tissue, including the nerve going to the little finger.

All the sections disclosed a general hypertrophy of the parts and a larger overgrowth of connective tissue. Some of the specimens from the edge of the ulcer showed the histology of the specific granulomata. A thickening of the blood vessel walls was noticed in the subcutaneous tissue.

All the sections were stained for lepra bacilli, with negative results. Those sections containing giant cells were also stained for tubercle bacilli, none were found.

The disease, therefore, in my opinion in neither leprosy nor tuberculosis, which, by exclusion, throws some weight upon the suspicion of syphilis.

Very respectfully,

(signed) M. J. Rosenau,
Passed Assistant Surgeon, M.H.S.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America lecture this Saturday

Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America

When: Saturday, February 14, 2009, 11:00 a.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine (AFIP, Bldg. 54)

What: Did syphilis travel from the New World to Europe on Columbus’ ships? What remedies did Lewis and Clark use to treat the disease on their expedition? Why were so many women with venereal disease quarantined in America in both world wars? What impact did the introduction of penicillin have on the spread of venereal disease? Join us for this Valentine’s Day talk with noted medical historian John Parascandola as he discusses his book, "Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America." A book signing will follow the presentation.

Cost: Free

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Originally uploaded by otisarchives3
This has been a pretty big hit over the last couple of days, so we figure some blog must have linked to it. The wages of sin, y'all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NY Times on syphilis

As you might expect from an Army museum and a pathology institute, we have a lot of photographs of syphilis (and yaws, a related disease). Here's the NY Times on the natural history of the disease:

A Great Pox’s Greatest Feat: Staying Alive
Published: April 29, 2008
Research indicates that syphilis became less virulent over time, which probably helped it survive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuskegee syphilis study - medical history that still has repercussions

This article "Testing after Tuskegee," by Amanda Thomas, Washington Times March 19, 2008, looks at the question of if the Tuskegee syphilis studies, unethical longitudinal studies that withheld treatment for syphilitic patients when an effective one existed, keeps black participation lower in clinical trials today.