As introductory to the following cases it may be of interest to mention the fact that there are two generally recognized modes of origin of acquired syphilitic infection, the one called direct infection, in which some part of a syphilitic person-such as the genital organs, the fingers, the lips, gums, teeth, tongue, pillars of fauces, tonsil, the folds between the breasts and the sides of the chest, the arms, and the nipple-come in contact with some portion or portions of the body of a non-syphilitic; and, second, mediate infection, in which some article or substance is the means of transmitting the infecting material from the diseased to the healthy person. In the latter category we find in literature the following articles mentioned: Cigars, cigar and cigarette holders, pipes, tooth brushes, tooth powders, drinking-utensils, knives, forks, spoons, razors, towels, sponges, pillows, masks, gloves, wash-rags, linen thread, silk thread, pins, needles, children's toys, nursing-bottles, rubber tubes, babies' rubber rings, trousers, bandages, surgical and cupping instruments, scarifiers, dental instruments and appliances, blow-pipes, paper-cutters, lead-pencils, speaking-trumpets, musical instruments, fish-horns, and last, but not least, the telephone has been accused of being a medium of syphilitic infection. In connection with this long list of recognized media of syphilitic infection I now present a case which carries with it intrinsic evidence of truth and of strong probability that the popular and apparently innocent gum-chewing craze may be accompanied by the hidden danger of syphilitic infection.
J Cutan Genito-Urin Dis.
TAYLOR RW. SOME UNUSUAL MODES OF INFECTION WITH SYPHILIS. Arch Dermatol. 1990;126(6):746. doi:10.1001/archderm.1990.01670300044004