London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Willesden 1916

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Willesden]

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(2) The greatest possible risk of acquiring venereal
diseases is incurred by promiscuous sexual indulgence.
(3) Venereal Diseases are not slight maladies, but are
dangerous to health, and frequently lead to permanent disability.
Syphilis is largely responsible for mental deficiency,
insanity, imbecility, idiocy, and other nervous disorders. It
is one of the main causes of diseases of the blood vessels
and apoplectic strokes in early life. It is also the chief
cause of miscarriages and still births.
Gonorrhoea is a disease of the genital organs, and unless
cured at once spreads to the bladder and kidneys. It is a
frequent cause of chronic invalidism, and is probably the
principal factor in producing sterility in the male or female.
(4) Venereal diseases can be cured if treatment is begun
early and systematically carried on until the doctor pronounces
the patient out of danger. Treatment should be
continued even after the early symptoms have disappeared,
if the cure is to be complete, and no ill results are to
The value of treatment, and especially of early treatment,
cannot be over-stated. Treatment in the case of
Syphilis can now be given with every prospect of complete
cure if the remedy is applied in the early stages of the disease.
This is due to three medical discoveries:—
(a) The discovery, in 1905, that Syphilis was due to
a micro-organism, circulating in the blood.
(b) "Ihe discovery of a Wasserman Re-action in 1906.
This is a blood test by which the presence of Syphilis
in the blood can be demonstrated at times when no
active symptoms show themselves. This test