A Unstoppable Universal Plague

by Steven Kaszab, Bradford, Ontario skaszab@yahoo.ca

During the 15th Century the world was exposed to what seemed like a unstoppable plague. Victims a a new and terrifying plague was upon Europeans, and then spread throughout Europe, to Africa, Asia and beyond. where it came from no one really knows. Victims experience pustules erupting on their noses, lips, eyes, swelling into ulcers as the sores crept into their mouths and down their throats. Their muscles and bones became painful especially at night.  Most physicians thought they were seeing either leprosy or elephantiasis, or something worst.
These medical professionals were experiencing mass Syphilis for the first time. In a two hundred year period over a hundred million people were effected with many millions dying. This plague was an equal opportunity infliction. Rich and poor, Kings and their Queens, Lords and their ladies, members of the growing middle class were all inflicted. This STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) became most difficult to not only treat, but also identify. As mentioned above, the inflicted showed various symptoms, this disease began as a painless and easily missed sore at a infection sight, which over a short period of time disappeared, followed by a copper penny rash on the hands and feet. When the rash cleared up, the disease became latent, infecting the brain, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver and bones. These symptoms did not follow the same pattern, making it difficult to recognize what the inflicted was suffering. Syphilis spreads through skin to skin contact mutating into a much deadlier sexually transmitted disease. Known as the great pretender, syphilis affected young men who succumbed to the wiles of prostitutes. These young men went home to their wives, girl friends and family members inflicting these innocents with this disease. Syphilis can be transmitted by either gender. In the middle ages women were often blamed for the spread of this disease. The Catholic Church prohibited sex outside of marriage, in an attempt to stop the spread. Previously prostitutes had been considered a needed service to the community, with brothels and prostitutes a common community element. Brothels and prostitution became illegal in many lands, and sex work could face prison time.Condoms, a linen sheath infused with chemicals was introduced to European cultural life. The use of mercury was also introduced, and in time many realized they were poisoning themselves using this method of medical treatment. Society’s response to this deadly disease was to persecute women of the lower classes, those who maybe forced to become active in the sex trade so they could feed their families. Unfortunately the religious organizations of the world and their powerful allies assaulted Womanhood in many ways, attempting to control the disease (not the men who spread it) buy controlling women. The Spanish Inquisition, British Witch Persecutions, divestment of women within the Church all were efforts to assert mans predominance within society and protect manhood every where. To admit and recognize that men were the super spreaders of this disease could not become common knowledge, or at least acted upon openly. In 1908 a German Scientist named Paul Ehrlich discovered Salvarsan, a magic bullet that could kill the microbes without harming the inflicted.  This antibiotic like material worked well to bring Syphilis under control. Unfortunately this pandemic continues to spread through out the world today. Like Covid-19 there are many syphilis mutagens, different strains with similar, yet slightly different symptoms. In 2019 over 27 million people world wide were recognized to be inflicted with syphilis, many in parts of the world where needed medicine cannot be readily found.  Syphilis also facilities both HIV transmission and acquisition.  The Great Pretender of STD’s will find a way to spread and kill. Better watch out, and better not cry, just know what harmful things are out there folks. Be very much aware, alert and alive.

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