Chapter II, Propagation, from Berkeley Hill and Authur Cooper’s The Student’s Manual of Venereal Disease, 1881
A HILL, BERKELEY AND COOPER, ARTHUR>
<N THE STUDENT’S MANUAL OF VENEREAL DISEASES>
THE causes of syphilis are predisposing and exciting. Predisposing causes
are conditions facilitating the spread or increasing the severity of the disease.
Syphilis is more severe in cold than in temperate climates; and in hot ones
for natives of cooler climates. Any cause which enfeebles the condition of the
individual, increases the severity of syphilis. All races are subject to the
disease: when invading a district not previously accustomed to it, its course,
like that of other contagious diseases, is for a time more severe. Probably
there are individuals insusceptible to syphilis, who escape that contagion as
they escape the contagion of scarlet fever.
The sole exciting cause of syphilis is a subtle principle called the virus. The
poison must be passed from the infected to the non-infected, and it enters
only at a breach of surface. It is non-volatile, easily destroyed by altering the
chemical constitution of its vehicle, by the aciton of heat or acids.
The vehicles of the virus are—The secretions of all early syphilitic
affections and the blood; but the fluids of the body usually cease to be contagious
when only the so-called tertiary affections are left. It is uncertain
whether the saliva, milk, or semen, unless mixed with syphilitic secretions,
can convey the disease.
The secretions of co-existing diseases in syphilitic persons may be also contagious;
certainly the disease is often transferred when matter of soft chancre,
or vaginal discharges, are inoculated, and occasionally by vaccination.
Modes of contagion.—Mainly by sexual intercourse, less frequently
by examining diseased persons, by suckling, by sucking wounds, by using
unclean instruments, spoons, cups, and other articles.
Contagion by Inheritance—Our knowledge is imperfect respecting
the ways in which syphilis is transmitted from parent to child. There is no
doubt that if the mother be infected before or at conception, the child is very
likely to receive the disease. Probably the child may contract the disease, if
the mother be infected in the early months of pregnancy If she be infected
after the seventh month, the child often escapes. As the disease subsides in
the mother the chances of escape for the child greatly increase, and after the
second or third year of the mother’s infection the child commonly escapes.
Infection from the Father.—Indirectly, the child may receive the
disease from the father if the mother is also attacked. It is believed by some
that the child may inherit the disease fro the father, while the mother
escapes; but this is not established beyond doubt.
It is supposed that the mother may become infected from the foetus; this
still remains doubtful.