Syphilis Zombies?

Each of these, and all of them, the “6 True Stories From History Creepier Than Any Horror Movie” offered at the link below, are well worth reading and come with my highest recommendation, but scroll on down to number five for the one that comprises the subject of this c’here article. (As there are only six, it won’t take much scrolling.) Number five proclaims: “Syphilitic ‘Zombies’ Wandered the Streets of Italy During the High Renaissance.” It informs us that, in 1494, “during the first major outbreak” of the disease, the malady “caused flesh to fall from people’s faces, and led to death within a few months . . . the complete destruction of the lips, others of the nose, and others of all their genitals . . .” And syphilis also causes insanity, so what they would have ended up with was a bunch of groaning, brain-damaged, shambling hot-messes—close enough for government work to being textbook zombies. IF it happened, that is.

Syphilis CAN cause all those symptoms in its advanced stages. But does it really work that fast? According to everything I’ve ever read on the subject, it’s a wasting disease, slow in its progression. Was it formerly worse—like, WAY worse, than it is now? Worse, and quicker to act? Anybody want to answer that one? Any doctors in the house?

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of Evil Cheez Productions ( - - specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. And he really likes vampires and werewolves. Like, a LOT.