Of all diseases that protean and imitative malady syphilis is the one which is capable of most closely simulating smallpox. During almost every extensive epidemic of smallpox cases of the former disease are erroneously regarded as variola and are not infrequently sent into hospitals set aside for the treatment of this disease. This resemblance between smallpox and syphilis was noted by physicians several centuries ago. When syphilis was first recognized at the end of the fifteenth century it became necessary to distinguish it from smallpox which it occasionally resembled to a most striking degree. Variola was designated therefore small-pocks or smallpox, and syphilis, great-pocks or pox. (The word pock signified pouch or pocket, and was doubtless descriptive of the pocket left in the skin after the subsidence of the disease.) The same nomenclature was employed in the French language, la petite verole to indicate variola, and la grande verole or
SCHAMBERG JF. REPORT OF FOUR CASES OF SYPHILIS MISTAKEN FOR SMALLPOX, WITH REMARKS ON THE DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS OF THESE TWO DISEASES. JAMA. 1902;XXXIX(22):1385–1388. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.52480480027001f
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