According to history, syphilis was not known, or, at least, was not recognized in Europe, until toward the end of the fifteenth century. It is considered probable that it was first introduced into Europe from America by the sailors of Columbus. The epidemic form with which this disease ravaged Europe in those early days has suggested that it is caused by a transmissible virus. No definite search, however, for such an infectious agent was possible until the discovery of the microscope. The first one to describe an organism in syphilitic lesions was Donné, who, in 1837, found a spiral organism to which Müller gave the name of Vibrio lineola. As no sharp differentiation between the non-syphilitic and syphilitic lesions had been yet established at that time, the finding of a spiral organism was inadequate to prove that it had any etiologic relation to syphilis. Bassereau, in 1852, rendered a great
NOGUCHI H. EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH IN SYPHILIS: WITH ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO SPIROCH[ill]ETA PALLIDA (TREPONEMA PALLIDUM). JAMA. 1912;LVIII(16):1163–1172. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260040179001
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