A brief history of gonorrhea




In the second century the history of gonorrhea became. It was meant to mean “flow of semen.” Greco-Roman physicians suggested abstinence from sex and the washing of a newborns eyes to prevent contamination. Until the ending of the Dark Ages information regarding gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections was nil. The term “clap” the nickname for gonorrhea appear in 1378. The word’s derivation is unclear but it possibly comes from a reference to the Les Clapier district of Paris which was housing for prostitutes in the middle ages. European writings of the late Middle ages make it clear that the disease was associated with sexual intercourse.


Confusion between syphilis and gonorrhea


In the late fifteenth century syphilis arrived and it became easily confused with gonorrhea. At the time, highly regarded surgeons Ambroise Pare and John Hunter considered syphilis and gonorrhea to be different manifestations of the same disease. Distinction between the disease took quite a while. Differentiation occurred in 1882 with Leistikow’s and Loffler’scultivation of the organism.


Modern medicine takes charge


Highly effective therapy for gonorrhea replaced the sometimes horrific therapies used for centuries, including urethral astringents, soundings and other mechanical devices. The sulfonamides were introduced in 1936 and penicillin in 1943 for gonorrhea therapy. Also a highly prized contribution of the twentieth century was a revolution in the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of gonorrhea. This started with Kellogg and his colleagues in 1963 with their demonstration that there are differences in virulence of gonococci with different colonial morphology. The developments help us to understand how gonococci cause repeated infections in the same individual and could, someday, lead to an effective vaccine. (back to main page on gonorrhea from history of gonorrhea).