Syphilis among Gurkhas from Nepal. Two cases of endemic infection.

  • R N Thin
  • Published 1972 in The British journal of venereal diseases


Nepal is a small country situated north of the Tropic of Cancer and lies along the southern slopes of the Himalayas on the north east border of India. The inhabitants as a whole are called Nepalis or Nepalese, but when young Nepali men are enlisted into the British Army, they are called Gurkhas because many are descended from tribes who at one time lived near the town of Gurkha. These people now live in the Himalayan foothills where they earn a poor living by farming (Adshead and Cross, 1970). During service in the British Army, Gurkha soldiers regularly return home for leave and married men can bring their wives to their unit for several years. Travellers have been allowed into Nepal only for the last 20 years. Visitors who stayed in the country for a period, such as Morris (1963) and Murphy (1967), observed that towns and villages were insanitary and the people dirty. In a survey of health in Nepal, Worth and Shah (1969) observed that the environmental conditions were highly favourable for the spread of disease. The British Military Hospital in Singapore served Gurkha and British patients. During 1970 it was observed that syphilis was common among Gurkha men and women, and in a few cases it appeared that the condition had been acquired during childhood in Nepal. As far as could be determined the literature did not contain any accounts of clinical syphilis in Nepal. No reference concerning endemic syphilis could be found and the World Health Organisation had no record of it (Guthe, 1970). The object of this paper is to describe the pattern of syphilis diagnosed among Gurkha soldiers and their wives in 1970, to compare it with the cases diagnosed among British patients, and to describe in more detail two patients thought to have contracted endemic syphilis during childhood in Nepal.

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Cite this paper

@article{Thin1972SyphilisAG, title={Syphilis among Gurkhas from Nepal. Two cases of endemic infection.}, author={R N Thin}, journal={The British journal of venereal diseases}, year={1972}, volume={48 3}, pages={189-93} }