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JAMA Dermatology a Century Ago
February 2014

From the Life of Julius Bettinger, the Anonymous Palatinate

JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(2):118. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8016

In 1855, a paper was delivered to the Medical Society of the Palatinate.* The author of this controversial report, which claimed that secondary syphilis was contagious, chose to remain anonymous. Why he did so can be summed up in 2 words: Philippe Ricord.

Ricord was brilliant, witty, and generous. He single-handedly turned l’Hôpital du Midi into Europe’s center for the study of venereal diseases. On publication in 1838, his book, Traité pratique des maladies vénériennes, was universally proclaimed a masterpiece. Ricord formulated the 3 stages of syphilis. He revived the distinction between syphilis and gonorrhea. An ardent advocate for unflinchingly thorough examination, Ricord popularized the vaginal speculum and was particularly pleased whenever he detected an anal chancre overlooked by less diligent doctors.

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