As regards treatment of venereal disease of all kinds, it should be clearly understood that the causative germs are well known and can readily be destroyed immediately after exposure to infection by thorough cleansing with antiseptic lotion or ointment. The use of soap and water only would lessen the incidence of infection. On the first suspicious sign of venereal disease the patient should apply at once for medical advice. There are methods of diagnosis, such as microscopic examination and the Wassermann test, the result of recent discovery, which make diagnosis simple and certain; and if treatment is begun early according to modern methods, which are much more effective than the remedies formerly applied, the germs of infection are easily vanquished. When sufficient time, however, is lost to enable these germs to become entrenched in parts of the body not readily accessible to treatment, cure is difficult, prolonged, and perhaps in some cases uncertain.
For their own sakes, as well as for the sake of others, patients suffering from any form of venereal disease should continue treatment, which may be prolonged in the case of syphilis for two years, until their medical adviser is satisfied that further treatment is unnecessary.
Women suffer less pain than men in these diseases, and consequently are more apt to neglect securing medical advice and treatment, and more ready to discontinue treatment before a cure is effected.
Occasionally cases are met with in which syphilis is acquired innocently by direct or indirect contact with syphilitic material, and then the primary sore is often located on some other part of the body than the genitals. Thus the lip may be infected by kissing, or by drinking out of the same glass, or smoking the same pipe as a syphilitic patient. A medical witness reported a case to the Committee in which syphilis was conveyed to two girls “through a young fellow handing them a cigarette which he was smoking.” Metchnikoff has proved that the spironema of syphilis is a delicate organism and quickly loses its virulence outside the human body, and it cannot enter the system through unbroken skin or mucous membrane. It is extremely doubtful if any form of venereal infection can be conveyed in food. Frequently venereal disease is deceitfully attributed by patients to innocent infection, and no doubt some genuine cases do occur, but how seldom is illustrated by the statement of the Officer in Charge of the V.D. Clinic at Christchurch, who said, “I cannot remember a case where I was absolutely certain that infection was acquired innocently or extragenitally.”
Gonorrhoea may be conveyed innocently from infective discharge on a closet-seat, or from an infected towel, &c., and undoubtedly gonorrhoeal discharge if brought into contact with the eye sets up a violent suppuration.