Definition of Lues
Lues: Pronounced lou-ease. An old name for syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that has been around for centuries and is caused by Treponema pallidum, a microscopic organism called a spirochete, a worm-like spiral-shaped organism that infects by burrowing into the moist mucous membranes of the mouth or genitals. The spirochete then produces the classic non-painful ulcer known as a chancre.
There are three stages of syphilis:
Diagnosis is by blood test, either the rapid plasma reagin (RPR) or Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test. Treatment is with antibiotics.
The name "syphilis" was coined by Hieronymus Fracastorius (Girolamo Fracastoro). Fracastorius was a true Renaissance man; he wrote on the temperature of wines, the rise of the Nile, poetry, the mind, and the soul; he was an astronomer, geographer, botanist, mathematician, philosopher and, last but not least in the present context, a physician. In 1530 he published the poem "Syphilis sive morbus gallicus" (Syphilis or the French Disease) in which the name of the disease first appeared. Perhaps more importantly, Fracastorius went on in 1546 to write "On Contagion" ("De contagione et contagiosis morbis et curatione"), the first known discussion of the phenomenon of contagious infection: a landmark in the history of infectious disease.
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016
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