Syphilis, therefore, is a markedly contagious and inoculable disease. It gains entrance, and usually in three weeks (although this period may be much shorter) a slight sore appears at the site of infection. It may be so slight as to pass unnoticed. This is the primary stage of syphilis. Later, often after two months, the secondary stage begins, and if not properly treated may last for two years. The patient is not too ill usually to attend to his avocation, and has severe headache, skin rashes, loss of hair, inflammation of the eyes, or other varied symptoms. The tertiary stage may be early or delayed, and its effects are serious. Masses of cells of low vitality, known as “gummata,” with a tendency to break down or ulcerate, may form in almost any part of the body, and the damage that occurs is considerable indeed. Various diseases result which the lay mind would not associate with syphilis, but it would be difficult to overestimate the resultant diseases that may occur in any organ of the body:—
This racks the joints; this
fires the veins:
That every labouring sinew strains;
Those in the deeper vitals rage.
Many deaths ascribed to other causes are the direct consequence of syphilis. It cuts off life at its source, being a frequent cause of abortion and early death of infants. It slays those who otherwise would be strong and vigorous, sometimes striking down with palsy men in their prime, or extinguishing the light of reason. It is an important factor in the production of blindness, deafness, throat affections, heart-disease and degeneration of the arteries, stomach and bowel disease, kidney-disease, and affections of the bones. Congenital syphilis often leads to epilepsy or to idiocy, and most of the victims who survive are a charge on the State. This indictment against syphilis is by no means complete. The economic loss resulting from this disease is enormous as regards young, old, middle-aged. It respects not sex, social rank, or years.
Gonorrhoea is characterized in its commonest form by a discharge of pus from the urethra, and causes acute pain at its onset in the male, but in the female it commonly causes little or no discomfort. Unless carefully treated, and treated early, it gives rise to many complications, such as inflammation of the bladder, gleet, stricture, inflammation of joints, abscesses, and rheumatism. It is a common cause of sterility and of miscarriages, and, in the female, of many internal inflammations and disablement, and in its later effects requires often surgical operations on women. It is a very common disease, and the public know little of the evil consequences which may follow what they have persisted in regarding as a simple complaint. From its prevalence and its complications it is one of the most serious diseases that affect mankind.