“To establish criteria for distinguishing among the three diseases based on skeletal changes the Rothschilds analyzed a North American collection of skeletons for syphilis cases (diagnosed at autopsy), a collection from Guam predating 1668 for yaws (the only treponemal disease on the island before then), and early historic Near Eastern Bedouin for bejel (bejel is endemic to the region).”
“Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema palladium; other bacteria in the same genus cause yaws and bejel, which are transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact or sharing of drinking vessels.”
“Like syphilis, bejel and yaws cause inflammation of tissue surrounding bone and modify the bones.”
“They were able to identify characteristic bone changes for each disease, for example, modifications to the shin and tibia particular to syphilis, or routine involvement of hand or foot in yaws but not syphilis or bejel.”
“The skull lesions are unlike those of treponemal disease (e.g., congenital syphilis) and the dramatic forearm calcification is unlike anything we have previously witnessed in over 500 cases of adult syphilis, nor in the periosteal reaction that characterizes yaws and bejel -- disorders in which children (though probably not fetuses) are frequently affected.”
“A third possibility is that syphilis developed in both hemispheres from the related diseases bejel and yaws.”
“Yaws is one form of treponematosis, which also includes the diseases pinta, venereal syphilis, and endemic syphilis or bejel.”
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