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Article
June 12, 1915

THE BEGINNING OF SYPHILIS

JAMA. 1915;LXIV(24):1961-1964. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02570500009002
Abstract

"By the historical method alone can many problems in medicine be approached properly. For example, the student who dates his knowledge of tuberculosis from Koch may have a very correct, but a very incomplete, appreciation of the subject. Within a quarter of a century our libraries will have certain alcoves devoted to the historical consideration of the great diseases, which will give to the student that mental perspective which is so valuable an equipment in life." —Osler.

The history of syphilis is unique among the records of great diseases. For, unlike most diseases, it does not gradually emerge into the historical records of medicine as its characters become recognized, but appears on the stage of history with a dramatic suddenness in keeping with the tragic reputation it has made—as a great plague sweeping within a few years over the known world. Syphilis is the one disease whose history begins

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