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Archives a Century Ago
July 1999

JOURNAL OF CUTANEOUS AND GENITO-URINARY DISEASES

Author Affiliations
 

MARKBERNHARDTMD

Arch Dermatol. 1999;135(7):772. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Dermatol.-ISSN-0003-987x-135-7-dac8007

VOL. XVII.

JULY, 1899.

NO. 7.

Correspondence.

CIRCUMCISION-SYPHILIS.

EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL OF CUTANEOUS AND GENITO-URINARY DISEASES:

In perusing the June number of your valuable Journal, the article, entitled "The Youngest Case of Initial Lesions of Syphilis," drew my attention. In my surgical experience of several years at the Good Samaritan Dispensary I can recall several cases of syphilis in infants, where the initial lesion appeared on the penis, at ages ranging from twenty-one days upwards. On questioning the parents, as to when these sores were first observed, a somewhat similar history was obtained, which was that they appeared after circumcision. On making inquires among the orthodox Jewish population, I discovered that certain rabbis of the old school, who perform the Mosaic rites of circumcision, used the mouth as a means of stopping hemorrhage. Mucous patches in the mouth of these venerable (venereal) gentleman come in contact with the raw surface of the circumcision, thereby infecting another innocent being by their primitive method of surgical procedure, and initiating him in the vast army of syphilitics. Medical societies should propose laws, in which only regular practitioners should be allowed to perform this operation, under the usual antiseptic precautions, the same as any other operation. The excellence of circumcision, taken as a hygienic and sanitary measure, is beyond discussion, and in our large genito-urinary clinics at the Good Samaritan Dispensary, where the patients are mostly of the Jewish persuasion, syphilitic and gonorrheal patients, proportionately taken, show an unusually small number which are affected with syphilis. These facts being proven, it is a sad state of affairs that the initial lesion, with its syphilitic sequelae, should appear innocently in these infants, from a cause which is not alone disgusting in itself, but at entire variance with modern surgical procedure.

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