Dr. John Ohab is a new technology strategist at the Department of Defense Public Web Program.
Today, I dig deep into the Pentagon Channel video archives to bring you this bit of science history…
Produced for the National Naval Medical Center in 1973, The Return of Count Spirochete is a delightful animated film dramatizing the medical facts about venereal disease. That, and so much more.
As the story begins, we join the (probably) world famous “Communicable Disease of the Year Award” ceremony, which acknowledges the one disease that has “done the most effective job of contaminating others.” Smallpox, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and the common cold are all serious contenders for the coveted “Fourth Horseman.”
However, in a surprising turn of events, the award goes to Count Spirochete (aka syphilis), much to the chagrin of the other contestants. In response to their outrage, the master of ceremonies then proceeds to explain in graphic detail the various reasons why Count Spirochete is deserving of the award.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but the rest of the video will take you on a whirlwind journey through the historical facts, symptoms, course of infection, and the impact of venereal disease on the human body as it was understood in the early 1970s. You’ll have you see it for yourself.
As it turns out, you can purchase the video in glorious VHS for just $55 from the US Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service. With the holidays approaching, this could be the gift that keeps on giving!