Author: David Fahey
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 1996 15:21:42 -0700
While discussing the controversy over whether syphilis originated in theWestern Hemisphere, some of my students asked when syphilis is documented as first appearing in Asia. They believed that this might show whether syphilis existed in the Old World prior to the European voyages across the Atlantic. Anybody know?
David Fahey (Miami Univ., Ohio) firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 10:39:32 -0700
Pleading ignorance on the Asia aspect, I would say that to the best of my understanding, syphillis was found in Europe prior to Columbus' return to Spain. Skullcases from opened tombs revealed, as I recall, scarring characteristic of spirochete bacteria enturies before the Columbian exchange began ... BUT (as they say, the biggest word in the English, that), the European variety was a mild (less often or not fatal) strain, that was displaced by the more virulent American type. We are into some deep water here, far deeper than my own medical anthro background allows me to swim with any confidence. Also we are in very confusing issues, as with last year's reports of pre-Columbian burials mummified by their Atacama (?) desert location. In that case, one woman was found to have nodules in her lungs that tested positive for TB, even though the theorized cattle-vector was not supposed to have been present in the New World. All very confusing. Anybody have any newer better answers?
Gordon C. Thomasson
World History Faculty
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