The terrifying disease we all forgot about (2022)


Syphilis was one of the most horrendous illnesses in history, beginning as weeping sores around the genitals, followed by a rash that covered the entire body.

The second stage involved flu-like symptoms and sores that looked like warts on the mouth and genitals. At this stage the patient is at their most contagious.

Then, a slight reprieve as the symptoms began to clear and the disease remained dormant for up to a year. It must have been such a relief. But while the outward symptoms might have disappeared, this stage heralded the onset of the inner symptoms, as the bones, heart, nerves and brain were attacked.

Then came the most terrifying stage of all; the tertiary stage of the sexually transmitted disease where painful ulcers appeared on the face, and as the sores got deeper, the flesh dropped away, leaving deep craters. The ulcers ate away at the bone and caused the bridge of the nose to cave into the face — a condition known as “saddle nose”.

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“No nose clubs” began to open as a way to offer support to people who had lost their noses to the brutal disease. Ugly and painful lesions and growths covered the body, and towards the end, the patient suffered blindness, paralysis, dementia and seizures as the nervous system was attacked.

Then, 91 years ago a miracle arrived — penicillin.

Today, as more and more sexually transmitted diseases are becoming resistant to antibiotics, it’s time we remember the sheer devastation that was caused by syphilis and the lengths people would go to as they tried to relieve their agony.

The terrifying disease we all forgot about (1)

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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”.

Historians have varying opinions about the origin of syphilis. Some believe it was first picked up in the Americas by Columbus’s fleet in 1493. It’s believed French troops came down with the disease in Naples in 1494.

Others maintain the disease came from elsewhere and had existed prior to the 15th century.

Anyone who was struck by the shocking disease was seen as a disgrace and “unclean”, and every country that was affected by syphilis was blamed by the neighbouring country for the outbreak.

Prostitutes were also blamed for the spread of the disease. In 1864, the British government passed the Contagious Diseases Act, which allowed police officers to detain women they suspected as being “common prostitutes” so they could be examined for venereal disease. Even though the act was eventually repealed, it caused a lingering connection between sex workers and syphilis.

The terrifying disease we all forgot about (3)

Medical historian and author of The Butchering Art, Dr Lindsey Fitzharris, told people were terrified of syphilis, largely because of the social stigma attached to the disease.

“There was no hiding it due to the way syphilis manifested itself on the face,” Dr Fitzharris said.

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“Nasal disfigurement became a sign of moral failing in its victims, regardless of the cause. This prompted an interest in rhinoplasty and other forms of reconstructive surgery in earlier centuries.

“Keep in mind that not everyone who contracted the disease did so through engaging in risky sexual behaviour. Spouses caught it from promiscuous partners, and infected mothers passed it onto their unborn children in what is known as congenital syphilis.”

The severe pitting in this skull is the direct result of tertiary syphilis. Sometimes referred to as "Cupid's Disease," syphilis was fatal before the discovery of penicillin. Notice the erosion of the nasal bone caused by the disease. Now housed at @medicalmuseum, MD.

— Lindsey Fitzharris (@DrLindseyFitz) April 2, 2019

Syphilis was so common in the 19th century that “no nose clubs” sprung up in London. The idea was people would gather together to celebrate the fact their noses had fallen off due to the ravages of the disease.

On February 18, 1874, the Star & Evening Advertiser reported: “Miss Sanborn tells us that an eccentric gentleman, having taken a fancy to see a large party of noseless persons, invited every one thus afflicted, whom he met in the streets, to dine on a certain day at a tavern, where he formed them into a brotherhood.

“The man, who assumed the name Mr Crampton for these clandestine parties, entertained his noseless friends every month until he died a year later, at which time the group unhappily dissolved.”

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Many people turned to mercury as a way to burn away the lesions. It was administered in the form of calomel (mercury chloride), an ointment, a steam bath or pill. It was also injected directly into the urethra.

But mercury had dreadful side effects. According to Dr Fitzharris, treatments gave rise to the saying “One night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury”.

“Unfortunately, the side effects could be as painful and terrifying as the disease itself,”

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Dr Fitzharris said. “Many patients who underwent mercury treatments suffered from extensive tooth loss, ulcerations and neurological damage. Some people even died from mercury poisoning.”

If a foreigner was found to have syphilis, they were sent home. When a wealthy person had syphilis, they were ordered to stay in their house. If a poor person had syphilis, they were sent to hospital where little could be done for them and, in many cases, they were whipped for being a “bad person” for getting the disease in the first place.

As the infected population spread throughout Europe, doctors and surgeons were at a loss as to what to do to curb the spread of the disease. At least they’d figured out it was a sexually transmitted disease, as one physician claimed, “men get it from doing it with women in their vulvas.”


The woman who wore this prosthetic was suffering from syphilis.

The terrifying disease we all forgot about (6)

According to Dr Fitzharris, the woman eventually lost her teeth and palate after prolonged exposure to mercury treatments.

“Her husband, who was the source of her suffering, finally died from the disease, leaving her a widow. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the poor, unfortunate Mrs X.

“According to records at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, the woman found another suitor despite her deformities. After the wedding, she sought out the physician, James Merryweather, and sold the contraption to him for £3. The reason? Her new husband liked her just the way she was — no nose and all!”

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Once penicillin was discovered in 1928, the nightmare of syphilis ended. Discovered by accident by Sir Alexander Fleming, who was researching a cure for influenza at the time, he later said, “When I woke up just after dawn on Sept. 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionise all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.”

Today, with less young people practising safe sex, syphilis is on the rise again. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than one million people every day worldwide catch a sexually transmitted infection.

The report, based on 2016 global data (the latest available), shows there are 6.3 million new cases of syphilis among those aged between 15 and 49.

The terrifying disease we all forgot about (8)

Syphilis caused an estimated 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths in 2016, making it one of the leading causes of baby loss. While syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics today, if left untreated it can spread to the brain and be fatal.

A British report found those aged between 17-24 were less likely to use a condom during sex (the best way to protect yourself from syphilis is by condom use), and a new campaign has been launched to encourage people to protect themselves from syphilis as well as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, which are also on the rise.

LJ Charleston is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter @LJCharleston

The wendigo is a product of Algonquian folklore and is a beast that was feared by all. This terrifying creature was known to have its biggest impact during the winter months and was thought to be responsible for the manifestation of some of the darkest parts of the human spirit.

Because of this, a wendigo can never be satisfied and will always hunger for more victims.. The wendigo is a demon, but some wendigos can be created from humans who have been corrupted with greed and the hunger for human flesh.. It is said that wendigos have the ability to grow to a size that is unfathomable by the human mind and that the sight of a wendigo who has devoured many souls is enough to make the human heart freeze in terror.. Anyone who becomes possessed with a wendigo spirit will become wendigos themselves and will continue to exist as a wendigo until the spirit is exorcised or they are killed.. However, as wendigos have incredible strength and are able to move with extreme strength and power, it is highly unlikely that a wendigo could be killed.. A wendigo can be killed with a weapon made of pure silver if it is driven through the creature’s heart of ice.. After first tasting human flesh, victims of wendigo psychosis are unable to eat any food other than human flesh.. Eventually, Swift Runner confessed to having wendigo psychosis and killing and eating his family for the pleasure of devouring human flesh.. Among other powers of the wendigo, it is thought that the creature is able to cause an illness called wendigo fever.. It also helped to dehumanize those who did decide to eat human flesh by giving others the explanation that they had been overcome with a wendigo spirit and were no longer human.

The oldest state in Australia, New South Wales, was the site of the first landing by the British in 1788. Eleven ships of the First Fleet set sail from Britain on 13 May 1787, with the leading ship…

The oldest state in Australia, New South Wales, was the site of the first landing by the British in 1788.. There are many rumours of spirits wandering the tunnel, allegedly related to the high number of suicides and deaths which took place on the train line before it diverted at a later stage.. Although picturesque and peaceful-looking, Sydney’s Quarantine Station (QS) harbours a dark past, entrenched in isolation, suffering, disease and death.. Many paranormal tours are run through the management of the QS, ranging from family-friendly tours to extreme tours, with an option of staying overnight.. People who visit the now empty Quarantine Station are often pushed by people who are not there.. The Australian Ghost Hunters Society regularly holds ghost hunts at Monte Cristo and have had some very interesting experiences there.. Many spirits are said to haunt the old buildings.. King George Avenue in Tamworth has many reports of a phantom set of headlights appearing to people driving toward the city.. This road used to be a popular drag strip for local youths, with a few reported deaths driving the rumours of a ‘ghost car’.

There are some truly terrifying Pokemon out there, and their horrifying Pokedex entries only drive that home.

Although many of Cacturne's Pokedex entries are run-of-the-mill, the one in Pokemon Sapphire suggests the Pokemon is much more sinister than it seems.. That doesn't mean that aren't creepy according to the Pokedex.. Its favorite food is frozen souls.". "If you get the feeling of being watched in darkness when nobody is around, Haunter is there.". If it isn't creepy enough that Haunter is always watching, the other Pokedex entry will be sure to terrify.. "Its muttered curses can cause awful headaches or terrifying visions that torment others.". That is why Mimikyu is actually terrifying.. Isn't that terrifying?. The other entry doesn't help either.. It isn't scary at all to think that your soul will end up getting punctured when this Pokemon hits you.. Who knows how it feels to have their soul punctured?. Dusknoir will eat your body whole, chew up your soul, and then spit your body back out.. This Pokemon's other Pokedex entry states that "it steals people and Pokemon away."

Watch out for the wild washing of clothes in Wales if you don’t want a drunk husband.

An English old wives’ tale states that throwing water out of your house at night weakens your protection from demons.. Stemming from Greek mythology, Germans believe that if you make a toast with water, you’re wishing death upon those you’re drinking with.. Another laundry-related superstition, in Turkey , it is said that clothes should never be washed on Tuesdays .. Those who wear clean clothes washed on this day of the week will soon pass away.. Rio de Janeiro residents ring in the new year by heading into the ocean and jumping over seven waves for good luck.. The belief that opening umbrellas indoors will cause bad luck to “rain” on you stems from 18th-century London when wide waterproof umbrellas were popularized.. These large objects with metal spokes could break things or injure people if opened inside a house or a confined space.. Spilling water behind someone who is leaving on a journey is a kind gesture that will bring them good luck.. Pouring water on people to make lady luck smile is also practiced in Turkey, Iran, and Bulgaria.. The Caribbean Island has a legend of a half-fish, half-woman figure with a bright green parrotfish-like tail that sat on a black rock and warned sailors away from the dangerous coast.

With increasing numbers of monkeypox virus among 1.3 billion people, African health experts have expressed worriness over lack of appropr...

With increasing numbers of monkeypox virus among 1.3 billion people, African health experts have expressed worriness over lack of appropriate vaccines to contain the outbreak in Africa.. At least 2,947 monkeypox cases have been reported in 11 African countries this year, including 104 deaths, but most of the cases reported are suspect ones because the African continent also lacks enough diagnostic resources for thorough testing, the Africa CDC director Ogwell said.. Given the continuous spread of the monkeypox virus especially in central and west African regions, raises the question of exploring the accesibility of vaccine supply.. The expert explained that monkeypox a well-studied disease: In the past, it has been concentrated primarily in rural West or Central Africa and transmitted from a bush animal to a person, who then would spread it to limited family members in close contact.. Monkeypox spreads through intimate physical contact, including direct contact with monkeypox pustules loaded with virus.

Sept. 11, 2001 started off as what seemed to be just an ordinary day. Millions of people going to work, to school, the grocery store, the gym, the doctor, the auto repair shop. By midmorning, however, it seemed as if the world had been turned upside-down – at least in the United States.

Four commercial airline jets had been hijacked and commandeered, three crashing into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the west side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and because of heroic efforts of passengers, a fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pa.. before it could reach another destination for destruction and mayhem.. However, within a month or two, the temporary spiritual fervor had waned as people calmed down and returned to “life as usual.” Today, instead of flocking to the nation’s churches, it seems throngs of people are leaving them, apparently convinced they don’t need God.. Not to stir up renewed anger and festering bitterness, but to remember the individuals who died, the families devastated that day – and the terrifying example of the evil possible when God is removed from the equation.. The Israelites saw God perform great miracles in freeing them from four centuries of bondage in Egypt – creating plagues that eventually convinced Pharaoh to let them go; parting the Red Sea as Egyptian chariots and horses pursued them; providing water, manna and quail to sustain countless thousands of men, women and children.. We see the Israelites faithfully serving and worshiping God when led by humble prophets and godly kings, but once those leaders died, the people quickly turned to idolatry and pagan practices.. Memories were extremely short, especially during good times when they forgot they needed God.. For many people, God is a mere afterthought, if that.. “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.". Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval.. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”. As dark memories of 9/11 fade, as more and more people live ignorant of such acts motivated by fathomless evil, we’re also losing the conviction of our individual and collective need for God.. Proverbs 29:18 carries a cautionary message: “When there is no vision, the people perish….” Another translation states it this way: “Where there is no [prophetic] revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”. But we can’t ignore the reality that absent of an understanding of God’s design for us and standards for living, people indeed are casting off restraint and ultimately perishing, empty and hopeless.. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International.


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