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May 1956

Neurosyphilis in Decline

AMA Arch Derm. 1956;73(5):469-471. doi:10.1001/archderm.1956.01550050047006

In spite of the many studies of syphilis by great minds since the end of the fifteenth century, as brilliantly presented by Pusey in his "History of Syphilis," there remained at the end of the nineteenth century many unsolved problems, especially in regard to syphilis of the nervous system. Even as late as ten years ago Merritt, Adams, and Solomon, in their valuable discussion of this branch of syphilology included a chapter on "Puzzles and Errors." What then of the puzzles and errors of 1896? I ask my younger readers who did not experience the difficulties facing the neurologist of the last century, to try to imagine themselves in that era, faced by the need of deciding in a given case whether syphilis had played any part in causing a neurological disorder. No laboratory aid is available, very little is known about syphilitic meningitis, and the only active antisyphilitic

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