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[Perspectives] Syphilis

For early modern physicians syphilis was “the great imitator”, a disease that mystified with the sheer range of its symptoms and the length of time it might take to show itself. Syphilis was first recorded in Europe in the mid-1490s, and the coincidence with Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the New World led contemporary physicians (along with more recent archaeologists and historians) to conclude that his sailors had brought the disease back with them.