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June 15, 1935


JAMA. 1935;104(24):2188-2189. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760240048016

Still somewhat shrouded in obscurity, the origin of syphilis continues to be of historical and epidemiologic interest. The chief difficulties in securing an adequate solution seem to be inadequate evidence. The favorite theory has been that Columbus's men brought syphilis to Europe from Hispaniola (Haiti). The usual narration affirms that a new disease appeared at the end of the fifteenth century and spread over Europe. The physicians of the period were undecided as to the nature and cause of this extraordinary malady. Some considered it an epidemic disease caused by severe floods, which had occurred in the time of Alexander VI. Others thought that the disease was caused by a malign influence of the stars. Another and more commonly accepted theory, which was based on the accounts of Fallopius, de la Martinière, Jacobus Carpus and Oviedo, states that the disease began at the time when Charles VIII, king of France,

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