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February 14, 2013

Happy VD!
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:05 PM * 20 comments

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
If it grows on chocolate,
You’ve got it too.

Comments on Happy VD!:
#1 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Gonorrhea grows on chocolate agar.

I'd thought about doing a big post on STIs and STDs (Sexually Transmitted Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (there's a small difference between the two)) for Valentine's Day, but ... didn't.

Today's word is "gleet." This is the term for the purulent discharge from chronic gonorrhea. Since the discovery of penicillin it isn't a word you hear much any more.

Given the rise of antibiotic-resistant strains, it's a word we may well hear again.

#2 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 01:31 PM:

Um... ew.

#3 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 02:17 PM:

I second B.'s comment.

#4 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 02:34 PM:

Some helpful person in my dorm put up a sign:

Things This Month Is For:
1. Looking at cute things
2. Smiling at a stranger
3. Making that move you've always been too shy to try
4. Using condoms
5. Getting tested

A pretty good sequence of events, I thought.

#5 ::: Jon Walker ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 02:41 PM:

There is an episode of Deadwood called 'Requiem for a Gleet', which is much better than its title. In that context, the word appears to mean 'kidney stone' (Al Swearengen passes one in an unforgettably excruciating scene).

#6 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 02:42 PM:

In the spirit of the occasion, have a link to a collection of vintage anti-VD posters.

#7 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 03:18 PM:

In its defense, chocolate agar contains no chocolate. It's so named because it looks chocolate brown; it's regular blood agar which has been (somewhat) cooked (80 C) to lyse the red blood cells. Allows some of the more fastidious bacteria to grow.

Though if you want fastidious bacteria, there's one that can only be cultured in the testes of rabbits... (syphilis, IIRC)

#8 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 04:15 PM:

And the last I heard, film historians are *still* looking for a print of the anti-VD film the military did in WWII featuring a redhead. When they did polling on troops they showed the film to, something like 90% said they would happily catch VD if they could sleep with her. All prints were reported destroyed, but hope springs eternal: I read somewhere that a cache of the Navy's version of Private Snafu turned up somewhere a few years ago after being considered lost for all time.

#9 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 04:46 PM:

@Claire: Brings a new, nastier meaning to "I went to the clinic after that night with Paul, and the rabbit died."

(I'm not old; I just hear really weird things about the Old Days from my parents.)

#10 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 04:50 PM:

"The rabbit died" is a pregnancy test. Old-school.

The Navy film I'm still looking for was a cartoon, "The Return of Count Spirochete" wherein the titular count turns ladies who lounge about under streetlamps into vampires.

The thing to remember about STIs is that most of them are Very Hard to Catch. They require direct contact, mucous-membrane-to-mucous-membrane.

And for heaven's sake, go get your HPV immunization!

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 05:33 PM:

Each year Warren Ellis lets everyone know that St. Valentine's Day began as Lupercalia, AKA "Horny Werewolf Day."

So, add rabies and parvo to watch list.

#12 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 05:47 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 11

Also distemper.

#13 ::: The_L ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 07:41 PM:

@Jim Macdonald: I know. :) Like I said, my parents have mentioned a lot of stuff about the Old Days...

#14 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2013, 08:03 PM:

The rabbit always died. The test involved dissecting it.

#16 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2013, 05:10 PM:

This vintage limerick was where I first ran across "gleet", in my dad's files from a med school compilation (circa WWII). I didn't feel it was a good idea to ask him. IIRC, it was also the first time I saw carbon copies, of which this looked like the third set.

ROT 13ed for the squeamish (though if you are, I'd like to know how you've gotten this far in this thread)

N fnvybe jub'q orra vaqvfperrg
Obhtug uvzfrys n xvg (nagv-tyrrg)*
Ur vafregrq gur gvc
Tnir gur ghor n dhvpx fgevc
Abj uvf gbby vf gur cevqr bs gur syrrg.

* doesn't scan right - blame the original

#17 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Stefan @#11

The Canadian Blood Service pamphlet for donors says they test for parvovirus B19. I wonder if it's a cross-shadow species thing?

#18 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2013, 11:49 AM:

The rabbit always died. The test involved dissecting it.

Also used: frogs.

"I am starting a baby - at least, I think I am, and the frogs will tell me for certain tomorrow", writes a Wren to her boyfriend in Nicholas Monsarrat's The Cruel Sea. That line puzzled me for years. The frogs?

#19 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2013, 01:03 AM:

Sarah: The rabbit always died. The test involved dissecting it.

Except in the episode of M.A.S.H. where all they had available was Radar's pet rabbit. They gave it a hysterectomy as I recall...

#20 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2013, 01:53 PM:

#18 re: the frogs:


Hormone research blossomed in this period. Scientists in several different laboratories developed bioassays (special tests using animals or live tissue) to identify hCG [human chorionic gonadotropin] by injecting samples to induce ovulation in rabbits, frogs, toads, and rats. These tests were expensive, required the sacrifice of several animals, and slow, often taking days to get results. The tests were also insensitive when measuring hormone levels to diagnose pregnancy because of the similarity between hCG and another substance, luteinizing hormone (LH). Most bioassays were in fact unable to distinguish between the two except at extraordinarily high rates of hCG.

A Timeline of Pregnancy Testing

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