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more often construed as dangerous vectors of disease to men and children than as victims of disease themselves.

Syphilis starts out with a hard ulcer, called a chancre, which quickly heals on its own. The bacterium, however, continues to spread throughout the body. This phase of the disease is probably somewhat milder today than it once was, given that it was known in the sixteenth century as “the Great Pox.” In the second phase, syphilis produces a rash, which can be seen on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and then it again disappears only to invade the tissues of the central nervous system (including the brain), as well as the cardiovascular and skeletal systems. It can cause all kinds of symptoms, although some people who have been infected never go through the third phase.