Encyclopedia of Parasitology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn


  • Heinz MehlhornEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-43978-4_4360


The syphilis is named after the mythical shepherd Syphilos who was punished by the Olympic gods for blasphemy with a novel disease. The other name lues actually simply means epidemic, but it has been established to mean syphilis in particular.


One theory explains that syphilis was allegedly endemic in the New World and introduced to Europe by Spanish naval discoverers (leading to syphilis epidemics in Europe 1495, in India 1498, in China 1505). The other theory postulates that the syphilis already came from Central Africa to Europe in old Greek times. Today the disease is worldwide spread among humans.


The spirally coiled bacterium Treponema pallidum (old name Spirochaeta pallida; Fig. 1).
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany