A boy suffering from congenital syphilis. The suffering this illness caused in pre-penicillin eras was completely excruciating. Approximately 15 percent of the entire population of Paris was believed to carry the disease by the end of the 19th century. Syphilis was shameful in these times, as many men got it from prostitutes working at brothels and whorehouses - symbols of decadence and debauchery in the public eyes - where it roamed free and untamed. Many people suffered in silence for whole lifetimes, subjecting themselves to treatments as horrible, prolonged and dehumanizing as the sickness itself.

See, syphilis does not necessarily kill you right away; many lived with their horrible syphilitic terror for 40 years or more. A most sinister, detailed account for it in can be found in the diary later published as La doulou: extraits du journal d'Edmond de Goncourt, describing french writers Alphonse Daudet’s gruesome ordeal in late 1800’s France. 

when Syphilis first surfaced, the English called it the ‘French disease’, the French called it the ‘Spanish disease’, Germans called it the French evil, Russians called it Polish disease, Poles called it Turkish disease, Turks called it Christian disease & Japan called it ‘Chinese pox’

Gummatous syphilide, with ulceration and necrosis of frontal bone

If you’ve ever wondered how someone could live with a skull like this one.

Tertiary syphilis would arise between three to 15 years after infection, and emerged as “gummatous” (forming gummas, soft tumor-like nodules, like what caused this lady’s ulcer) about 15% of the time. If the inflammatory nodules didn’t form on an important organ or blood vessel (as they could, and did, form anywhere in the body), gummatous syphilis wasn’t in and of itself fatal. Death from infected ulcers was not uncommon, however.

Interestingly, you could have gone to town with this lady and not gotten syphilis from her, despite her having been infected for probably more than half her life - tertiary syphilis is no longer transmissible.

A Practical Treatise on Diseases of the Skin. John V. Shoemaker, 1892.

This 1863 image from the Wellcome Trust illustrates a distinctly vampiric set of “Syphilitic malformations of the permanent teeth” – makes you wonder if the visual image of the vampire was inspired by the widespread horrors of untreated syphilis (for an exceptionally visceral window into a society wracked by untreated syphilis, have a look at the Mutter Museum’s display of syphilitic skulls). (via Curiously vampiric teeth of untreated syphilis sufferers - Boing Boing)

Fact-check outrageous claims. Even the ones that support your ideologies. Donald Trump is an evil person, but don’t go spreading photoshopped pictures of him in Klan robes thinking they’re real. Falling for hoaxes and spreading myths only weakens your credibility and wastes other people’s time.

On the bright side, I have learned a whole heck of a lot about the history of syphilis ‘cause you all think Columbus fucked a llama.