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  • Writer's pictureJulie G - Microbigal!

How Syphilis Symptoms In Men And Women Created The Syphilis Stigma We Know Today

Good morning class!

Good Morning Ms. Ecoli
It has come to my attention that some of you have been picking on Myckee for his associaiton with the recently caught society of symbionts most wanted Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
(snickers throughout the classroom)
Well the Society of Symbionts has 0 tolerance for this kind of crude and disappointing behavior. It is the Society's principles to teach, not punish. So today's class we'll be diving into another of the Society's Most wanted list, Treponema pallidum. But more importantly into how syphilis symptoms in men and women created the syphilis stigma that ruined so many of the Giant's life.
ugggghhh, I'd rather just take a punishment.
Thank you for admitting your guilt Larry. We are off to a great start. Now can you get us started with some facts on syphilis you learned from Becky's lecture the other day, perhaps on some how syphilis is transmitted and some common syphilis symptoms in men?
Fine. In Becky's and professor Xi's classes we’ve talked a lot about the disgusting disease of Syphilis, its symptoms, its origins, its cause, and a bit about its history.
Larry please try and so some compassion. Neither the microbe, the disease, nor the giants who have it our 'disgusting'. They are victims. Somtimes misguided, unfornate and without many other options. Please continue but try and put yourself into Treponema's or the Giant's shoes.

(eye roll) How is syphilis transmitted? I think Becky said it was in some weird giant ritual she called sex or when an uninfected giant comes in contact with a chancre of an infected giant.

What are syphilis symptoms in men? And are syphilis symptoms in women different? I can't remember.

That's ok Larry. Thank you for your input. We will discuss these questions and more about syphilis stigmatism in today's class.

Obviously, syphilis is a spreadable fatal disease that has been around for a very long time and has killed and disfigured millions of giants: men, women, children, young and old. The resulting syphilis symptoms were certainly hellish, but were the sufferers evil and thus to blame?

Cartoon depiction of the pathogen for syphilis Treponema pallidum depicted like a Pokemon card with stats on the right side.

How Is Syphilis Transmitted

Let's start with how is syphilis transmitted. Syphilis is considered a sexually transmitted infection as it is contracted through sexual acts.

But Ms. Ecoli, How is syphilis transmitted to Giant's babies then?
Very good question Psydney. If the Giant who has syphilis is having a baby, the mother can transmit the syphilis to their offspring. This is how syphilis is transmitted to the Giant's babies. This has a special name congenital syphilis.

The pathogen of Syphilis and Syphilis Symptoms in Men and women

Once infected, the pathogen of syphilis Treponema pallidum will first cause painless chancres that can be hard to notice, and if left untreated will progress to lesions and rashes, which can also be so mild they are difficult to detect. Syphilis symptoms in men often include chancres on:

  • penis

  • scrotum

  • anus

Picture of some syphilis symptoms in men

Secondary Syphilis symptoms in men and women include:

  • Fever

  • Swollen lymph glands

  • Weight loss

  • Headaches

  • Muscle aches

  • Fatigue

All these syphilis symptoms in men and women are often associated with the secondary stage of the disease. If left untreated there can be a latent stage, where syphilis symptoms may not be visible at all, but patients can be spreading the disease and inner damage to their bones, heart, nerves, and brain begins.

Unfortunately, syphilis symptoms in men and women can go unnoticed and cause no pain which often results in the continual spread of the infection. Without showing syphilis symptoms, many giants would keep their secret and move on, marrying and

A picture of syphilis symptoms in women. Here depicting tertiary syphilis symptoms in women that caused her to loose her nose.

having children. At some point, it could be years, the infection will reach its tertiary stage, which is where a wide range of syphilis symptoms in men and women can occur, from mild to terrible. In this most terrifying

stage, painful ulcers deteriorate the skin, leaving horrifying, stinking craters that eventually eat away at bones, causing many to lose their nose. Ultimately the pathogen of syphilis can cause cardiac issues, dementia, and madness leading up to an awful death.

Syphilis symptoms can cause what is seen in this picture of a deformed mouth covered in lesions

If you do a photo search for syphilis symptoms in women or men (very nasty stuff, you’ve been warned!), you will be faced with terrible lesions, genital deformities, missing noses, and deformed eyes, mouths, teeth, and other body parts. However, syphilis symptoms in men and women do not just end with physical deformities and ailments. Syphilis symptoms in women and men can also lead to a number of mental and spiritual tolls syphilis would impart on its victims. Though perhaps by looking into their haunted and tortured eyes, one can get a glimpse of their trauma and gain some empathy for their lives.

A picture of syphilis symptoms manifested by deformed red and gunky eyes.
Ms. Ecoli what you just described is terrible and what we try and stop at the Society of Symbionts isn't? Aren't we here to learn to be better symbionts? And don't we try to catch people like Myckee's kind. Why does he get to be here when his species does stuff just as bad as this?

Well, Larry as always you are a bit quick to jump to judgment and to blame a whole species for the action of a few. Myckee, is a fantastic student and many of you consider him a good friend don't you? Myckee may be related to someone on the Society's Most Wanted but he's is not the same Mycobacterium that's on the poster. Many of the Society's Most Wanted are equally as misunderstood as the victims we talk about here today. They are misguided, and end up in the wrong place on occasion. Neither the giants or the microbe are villians both are victims of circumstance. But let's continue on to understand more about the Giants suffering with syphilis.

Cruel Suffering Beyond Just Syphilis Symptoms in women and men

When German physician Joseph Grunpeck was struck down with syphilis, he described it as “so cruel, so distressing, so appalling that until now nothing more terrible or disgusting has ever been known on this earth”.

Because syphilis is contracted via sexual contact and the disfigurements were so grotesque and obvious, a terrible social stigma was attached to afflicted people (and still is today). Suffering victims were considered ‘unclean’, morally corrupt, and disgraceful. Many physicians in Victorian times even refused to treat syphilis patients, believing that the pox and suffering were ‘God’s will’.

What the giants just abandoned each other like that?
Yes Mia. Often it is easy to look the other way, to blame instead of save. To poke fun of instead of understand.

Before the beginning understanding

of the microscopic world, it would be easy to view the disease as punishment for abhorrent behavior, but what of the innocent babies, unsuspecting spouses of promiscuous partners, assault victims, young men and women forced into prostitution, or just someone who had a momentary lapse in judgment?

A WWII propaganda photo telling women to stay away from dance halls so they don't contract syphilis from soldiers. However dance halls is Not how syphilis is transmitted! How is syphilis transmiteed : unprotected sex with an infected person is most common way.

Imagine being horribly disfigured because your mother married a soldier who visited a brothel during the war years ago and you are doomed not only to the suffering of syphilis symptoms but the social suffering of syphilis stigma as well.

Syphilis Sufferers Unite! No Nose Clubs

‘There was no hiding it due to the way syphilis manifested itself on the face. Nasal disfigurement became a sign of moral failing in its victims, regardless of the cause.’ Dr. Lindsey Fiztharris

A news clipping with the title "Origin Of The No Nose Club"

A funny/not funny result of the syphilis symptom was ‘saddle nose’, the collapse of the bridge of the nose to cave into the face often seen in the tertiary phase of syphilis.

But where there is pain and suffering there is also comradery and community. From these deformities came the appearance of the ‘No Nose Clubs’. In February of 1874, it was reported that a Mr. Crampton hosted clandestine parties to which he invited noseless people he met on the streets of London to a tavern to dine with him. To the shock of the tavern waiters, a surprising number of guests attended and the meetings continued monthly for a year, until the death of Mr. Crampton.

Maybe this was one of the first support groups ever formed! Small comfort for these poor souls suffering from syphilis symptoms. Imagine this: it was not uncommon to walk the streets of European cities in the 19th century and see several people with a hole in their face where their nose should be or a shiny metal nose.

Picture of a nose which syphilis symptoms in women and men including losing your nose.

For those with means, hiding the embarrassing and stigma-producing syphilis symptoms spurred advancements in prosthetics and reconstructive surgeries. Artificial noses of metal were created and surgeons were employed to try and recreate noses from tissue harvested from unaffected areas. One method was to take skin from one area, twist it and sew it on. Another method employed was to sew skin from the upper arm to the face (while still attached), let it heal, and sever it a few weeks later. That'd be an intereEsting few weeks!

But what about syphilis symptoms in women?
Excellent question Anna! Syphilis symptoms in women were quite similar to men. But syphilis symptoms in women came with a much different stigma that very much villianzed the victims once more.

Demonizing Female Sexuality and the Rise of Feminism?

Painting of a man with hs head down on a table and a whimsical women opening a curtain behind him showing the man he might become once syphilis symptoms arise.

Syphilis was also instrumental in shaping attitudes towards women and inspiring feminism. Syphilis symptoms in women are very similar to the syphilis symptoms in men. One difference in syphilis symptoms in women is the chancres can occur on the vulva or vagina.

Prostitutes were often blamed for the spread of syphilis and since most prostitutes were women, women’s sexuality was implicated and demonized.

In an effort to control the spread, officials focused on controlling women. The Contagious Diseases Act in the 1860s kept track of prostitutes when police with ‘good cause’ was allowed to stop women in the street and subject them to ‘voluntary’ internal and extremely invasive examinations. Women were placed on a register and subject to routine ‘examinations’ and could be detained for non-compliance.

Painting of a women crying over a baby which is showing red dots all over its chest, a common symptom of congenital syphilis.

For wives and mothers from all walks of life, it was also common for spouses to not be informed of a syphilis diagnosis as it might affect their husband’s reputation! So they knew they were sick, but were not told why. They continued to get pregnant (if they could) with a heartbreaking stillborn rate and with surviving children having congenital syphilis symptoms with deformities and disabilities. These practices started debates which led to changes in protocols and attitudes.

Picture of the spiral bacteria that causes syphilis: treponema pallidum

We now know that it is not the giant's morals that caused the deformities but caused by one of the Societies Most Wanted, Treponema pallidum.

But we also must remember Treponema pallidum, is not malicious. They do not intend to cause syphilis in the giants.

But this does not change the amount of giant suffering that has been endured through the course of hundreds of years. There are few members of the Society's Most Wanted that changed the course of human history as much as Treponema pallidum.

It's hard to imagine the extent of syphilis symptoms in men and women today because of the Giant's discovery of penicillin. Because of penicillin and other health interventions, syphilis typically does not progress like it once did. However not everywhere in the Giant's world is penicillin and treatment available. And unfortunately, infections are still occurring and are actually on the rise!)

It is sad to think of the physical pain, disfigurement, and lives cut short before they could contribute to society (there are many writers, artists, scientists, and leaders struck down in their prime!).

The damage done by ignorant and cruel attitudes caused immeasurable emotional distress, stigma, shame, and the devastation of abandonment and betrayal only added to the wretchedness.

Unfortunately, the Giants usually try to find ways to lift themselves up instead of helping out their communities. Often the unafflicted could use the afflicted as a way to prove to themselves they were better.

'That wretched syphilis only happens to ‘those’ people, not me!' They might say.
But like us, with knowledge and compassion, even the giant's attitudes can change. So in conclusion I hope you learned a little bit about how is syphilis transmitted as well as the syphilis symptoms in men.

And women! Ms. Ecoli you also taught us about Syphilis symptoms in women!

Thank you, Anna. Yes and Syphilis Symptoms in women. But most importantly I hope you've all learned a little something about the cruelty of stigmatism, treating others with respect, undertanding, and compassion.
Quote from the Dalai Lama over a water colored depiction of the globe. The quote reads "Love and Compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."

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