A: It’s been reported –- and we paraphrase — that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, got off the Santa with part of his crew, stepped on the island to get something new, and –- hurray! -– it was syphilis, which his men brought back to Europe and introduced to a new population, enabling the disease to quickly turn into an epidemic.
But did Columbus himself die from syphilis also? It’s difficult to say. In 1504, when the explorer returned from his third voyage west, he didn’t look so hot. He was partially paralyzed, suffering edema, and mentally deranged.
These symptoms could’ve been brought on by syphilis, but they could’ve also been related to typhus or rheumatic fever. It’s impossible to know for sure without examining Columbus’s bones; but for now we’ll just have to refrain from throwing around the nickname “Syphilis Chris” – kind of catchy, right? (Just like the syphilis.)