Gonorrhoea and syphilis. Two microscopic organisms that over the years have removed more men from the battlefield of various conflicts than fists, bayonets, bullets, sabres, mustard gas, grenades, mortars, tanks or any creative combination thereof, combined.
An address by Surgeon General Gorgas before the General Sessions of the American Public Health Association in August 1917 expresses the wish that if he were provided a magic wand and were given the choice to eradicate wounds or venereal disease, he would choose venereal disease. "A man with a flesh wound through the thigh is back in the trenches within ten days or two weeks, frequently in less time. If he contracts a venereal disease, his average disability is very much longer. In other words, to the commanding general, the loss is greater for a man who contracts gonorrhea than for a man who is shot through the thigh, and if the commanding general could lay aside all question of morality,he would probably choose the eradication of venereal disease rather than the prevention of wounds."