The rapid changes that syphilis underwent after the first major outbreak that occurred in Naples in the mid-1490s are believed to constitute the first well-documented example of a human disease. The new plague was of exceptional virulence, highly contagious and causing severe ulceration at the site of infection. According to medical and other historical sources, the ‘genius epidemics’ changed some years after this onset, and a slower-progressing form of syphilis seems to have replaced the initial severe form, as do many virulent epidemic infectious diseases that appear in devastating forms in a previously uninfected population. But what exactly were the features of the disease at the moment of its appearance in Europe at the end of the fifteenth century? How many years did it take for the early, virulent form to be replaced and become endemic? What was the pace of these changes through the decades following the onset of the epidemic? In this essay, I review these issues through an analysis of a large number of chronologically-ordered primary historical sources.

The Rise and Fall of Syphilis in Renaissance Europe / Tognotti, Eugenia. - In: THE JOURNAL OF MEDICAL HUMANITIES. - ISSN 1041-3545. - (2009).

The Rise and Fall of Syphilis in Renaissance Europe

TOGNOTTI, Eugenia
2009

Abstract

The rapid changes that syphilis underwent after the first major outbreak that occurred in Naples in the mid-1490s are believed to constitute the first well-documented example of a human disease. The new plague was of exceptional virulence, highly contagious and causing severe ulceration at the site of infection. According to medical and other historical sources, the ‘genius epidemics’ changed some years after this onset, and a slower-progressing form of syphilis seems to have replaced the initial severe form, as do many virulent epidemic infectious diseases that appear in devastating forms in a previously uninfected population. But what exactly were the features of the disease at the moment of its appearance in Europe at the end of the fifteenth century? How many years did it take for the early, virulent form to be replaced and become endemic? What was the pace of these changes through the decades following the onset of the epidemic? In this essay, I review these issues through an analysis of a large number of chronologically-ordered primary historical sources.
The Rise and Fall of Syphilis in Renaissance Europe / Tognotti, Eugenia. - In: THE JOURNAL OF MEDICAL HUMANITIES. - ISSN 1041-3545. - (2009).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11388/149934
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