Notes about The Third Great Plague A Discussion of Syphilis for Everyday People

by John H. Stokes

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In 1917 medical practitioners didnít have modern tests, drugs or insurance codes. Itís interesting to study the perceptions and the resourcefulness of that time. † Written more than 100 years ago, Stokes' book shows us we can draw several parallels between L. borreliosis and Syphilis, Treponema pallidum. Both caused by spirochetes, which are bacteria that evolutionarily branched off from other bacteria. Both often start with a skin lesion and can go into an indeterminate, sometimes lengthy period of stillness which can quickly convert to active disease. Both have a special affinity for attacking the nervous system. The consequences of both, if left untreated, are devastating: severe heart disease, plaques in various blood vessels and organs, dementia, crippling arthritis, pain syndromes, extreme fatigue, and general malaise. Both can cause blindness and deafness and both can be fatal.

The difference between the two is that Syphilis cannot tolerate temperature variation more than a few degrees from 98.6ļ F, therefore itís solely dependent on the human host; while Borrelia burgdorferi, (Bb), moves readily between cold-blooded arachnids (ticks) and a variety of mammals, including humans, birds, and reptiles.  Although both spirochetes can transmit infection, besides surviving in many hosts, Borrelia has a means where it can turn genes on and off in complex patterns to confuse and evade our immune systems. In addition, Syphilis has no plasmids whereas Borrelia has more than twenty plasmids, with DNA that can shed to facilitate genetic recombinations


Parasites evolve life cycles to give them an opportunity to spread to other hosts. For species survival, they donít want to kill their hosts. Syphilis needs a live host to spread to newborns and sexual partners. L.borreliosis has to make sure its vertebrate host stays alive long enough to infect next yearís ticks. (Borrelia proliferates utilizing ticks, other insects, animals and humans and through sexual partners and offspring.)

CDC press releases usually tell of microbes with much shorter life cycles. For instance, Pneumococci bacteria do not have to wait for childbirth or sexual unions to spread. A sneeze or a crowded elevator ride can do it. Syphilis and Lyme borreliosis require slower, more persistent lifecycles of years, rather than days, to proliferate.


Europeans studied Syphilis from the time sailors brought it to Italy from the New World, until Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Penicillin halted its worst effects which also may have dampened scientific interest. Indeed, thinking they had solved the problem, researchers stopped focusing on spirochetes after 1950. Then, AIDS hit the radar screen and concern over Syphilis almost vanished. When a borreliosis outbreak occurred in the 1970s, near Old Lyme, Connecticut, there was an investigation but, according to the literature, it took a German expatriate researcher, Willy Burgdorfer, to identify its cause. Contrary to the best way of dealing with Borrelia, most academic researchers follow a standard medical-scientific procedure: a simplified case definition, rote treatment, and research to support foregone conclusions; so L. borreliosis has been force-fit into modern-assembly-line medicine where medical-industrial complexes treat doctors like technicians, ordering them to run blood tests and prescribe according to test results. If or when that doesn't work, many doctors feel pressure to pull out, give up, or refer the patient to a Lyme doctor.


Test development and vaccine attempts continually dominate L. borreliosis research, but have been colossal failures! Tests are not accurate and the vaccines often made people sick. Just imagine: Doctors who rely on blood tests to diagnose Lyme do not know that for years, the CDC has stated that a clinical evaluation for Lyme is the first step in diagnosing Lyme where risk factors are second and blood tests are the third consideration for Lyme diagnosis.

SOLUTIONS? Few researchers have studied humans with L. borreliosis with a FOCUS ON FINDING CURES! John Stokes did closely study humans with Syphilis. His analysis of spirochetal disease can expand our knowledge. For further edification, substitute "antibiotics" in his discussion of mercury and arsenic treatments. By applying Stokes' knowledge of Syphilis to Borreliosis, you may come away with a good understanding of spirochetal infections.       Go here for The Third Great Plague, complete Free book