18 June, 2012

18 June 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Here are some photos Greg took on the way from Leipzig to Reims, 16-18 June 1945
Mainz - June 1945

The Rhine at Mainz - June 1945

The Rhine and the Moselle Meet - June 1945

Village near Trier on the Moselle - June 1945

Village along the Moselle - June 1945

Railroad Bridge thru Luxembourg City - June 1945

and now (below)

Luxembourg - June 1945

and now (below)

Luxembourg - June 1945

and now (below)


about Too Much of a Good Thing
"The Clap:" Then and Now

On 18 June 1945 TIME Magazine, (Vol. XLV, No. 25) published this article concerning the new use of penicillin to treat gonorrhea.
Medicine: Quick Cure

Not so long ago, "the clap" used to be considered "no worse than a bad cold." Thanks to this cavalier attitude, many a child has become blind, many a woman made sterile, many an, oldster made insane. Syphilis killed its thousands, but gonorrhea crippled its tens of thousands.

Ever since penicillin's potency against the gonococcus was discovered, health experts have hoped it would eventually provide a quick treatment that a doctor could give in his office. Hitherto gonorrhea patients have had to be hospitalized (expensive) or treated repeatedly (difficult because many are too irresponsible to keep appointments).

Using penicillin dissolved in water, treatment was gradually worked down to three hypodermic injections two hours apart. Then came the discovery, announced last year (TIME, Sept. 11), that penicillin mixed with beeswax and peanut oil is disseminated slowly through the body, keeping the penicillin content of blood high for hours. The Public Health Service acted swiftly. To 137 doctors throughout the land went instructions and the penicillin mixture with the request that they try single injections of 200,000 units (2 cc.) on as many patients as possible and report the results. Back came results on 1,060 cases: over 91% apparently cured, regardless of sex, color or stage of the disease. Many of the failures were cured by a second injection. The rest were re-treated — and nearly all cured — by slower penicillin methods.

Note: Penicillin is also effective against syphilis (TIME, Oct. 25, 1943). Standard treatment with arsenic compounds used to take months or years. Penicillin treatment is a matter of weeks.
Sixty-seven years (less 12 days) later, from the World Health Organization's web site comes this article about how some gonorrhea is now resistant to all known drugs once used to kill it.
WHO: Urgent action needed to prevent the spread of untreatable gonorrhea

6 June 2012 | Geneva -

Millions of people with gonorrhea may be at risk of running out of treatment options unless urgent action is taken, according WHO. Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics – the last treatment option against gonorrhea. Every year an estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea, which is transmitted sexually.

“Gonorrhea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,” says Dr Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance, and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.”

In new guidance issued today, WHO is calling for greater vigilance on the correct use of antibiotics and more research into alternative treatment regimens for gonococcal infections. WHO’s Global Action Plan to control the spread and impact of antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhea also calls for increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains as well as better prevention, diagnosis and control of gonococcal infections.

Health implications are important

Gonorrhea makes up one quarter of the four major curable sexually-transmitted infections. Since the development of antibiotics, the pathogen has developed resistance to many of the common antibiotics used as treatment, including penicillin, tetracyclines and quinolones.

“We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option – the class of cephalosporin antibiotics – as there are no new therapeutic drugs in development,” says Dr Lusti-Narasimhan. “If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant.”

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is caused by the unrestricted access to anti-microbials, overuse and poor quality of antibiotics, as well as natural genetic mutations within disease organisms. In addition, gonorrhea strains tend to retain genetic resistance to previous antibiotics even after their use has been discontinued. The extent of this resistance worldwide is not known due to lack of reliable data for gonorrhea in many countries and insufficient research.


Untreated gonococcal infection can cause health problems in men, women and newborn babies including:

  • infection of the urethra, cervix and rectum;
  • infertility in both men and women;
  • a significantly increased risk of HIV infection and transmission;
  • ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and premature deliveries; and
  • severe eye infections occur in 30-50% of babies born to women with untreated gonorrhea, which can lead to blindness.

Gonorrhea can be prevented through safer sexual intercourse. Early detection and prompt treatment, including of sexual partners, is essential to control sexually transmitted infections.

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