Syphilis and the Grave of Al Capone

For the latest episode of Under the Knife, Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris goes on location to visit the grave of gangster Al Capone (with a bottle of gin, of course) in Mount Carmel Cemetery to explore his syphilis-fueled decent into madness and death.

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    Philip Carli says:

    There was an effective treatment for syphilis prior to penicillin – Arsphenamine, invented by Paul Ehrlich and Sahachiro Hata, which was marketed under the trade name Salvarsan and first made available in 1910. There’s even a fairly well-known film about its inventor and his lab team, DR. EHRLICH’S MAGIC BULLET (1940), starring Edward G. Robinson. Salvarsan was admittedly not perfect, and it had to be administered extremely carefully because the side effects could be serious; because of this, Ehrlich developed a more manageable (if slightly less effective) derivative, Neosalvarsan, which appeared in 1912.

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