A total of 2515 people attending a large military hospital in Saudi Arabia was studied clinically, serologically, and (when appropriate) radiologically for evidence of treponematosis. The indications are that non-venereal endemic syphilis (bejel) is prevalent among the nomadic communities living in rural areas. In contrast, venereal syphilis is much less common, and is found almost exclusively in urban populations. Some of the high risk regions for bejel have been identified, and many people from these locations complained of persistent pain in the legs, which was often associated with radiological evidence of osteoperiostitis of the long bones. Bejel also seems to have become clinically "attenuated" within the last 30 years, with the majority of seroreactors having latent disease. A hypothesis suggesting a reason for this change is put forward, and ways of controlling the infection are outlined.
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