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Old 01-27-2005, 05:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Medical staff symbol origin

I just read an article from another thread and it had a picture of the medical staff symbol on it. The one with a staff, a pair of wings and two snakes wrapped around it. I got to thinking where did that come from? I assume its way back in the day.

Anybody know off the top of their head?
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Old 01-27-2005, 05:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's called a Caduceus , it was the staff carried by the Greek god Hermes.
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Not off the top of my head, but off the top of my <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus">Wikipedia</a>.

A caduceus (kerykeion in Greek) is a staff with two snakes wrapped around it.

The caduceus was a symbol of commerce and is associated with the Greek god Hermes. It was originally a herald's staff, sometimes with wings, with two white ribbons attached. The ribbons eventually evolved into snakes in the figure-eight shape.

In modern times it is often used interchangeably with the Rod of Asclepius, associating the caduceus with medicine, especially in the United States. Historically, the two symbols had distinct and unrelated meanings.

In Unicode, the "caduceus" symbol is U+2624 (☤).
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There is a parasite that I learned about in college that may have led to the development of this symbol historically. At least that is what my prof said. Mind you, this is years ago and I don't recall correct spelling and I did not have this confirmed in med school.

Dracunculus medianenses is a worm that invades your tissue if you swim in small stagnant bodies of water in Northern Africa and the Eastern Med. It then grows to length of up to 6 or more feet before forming a blister where it sticks its head out. The blister then pops when you get in water again and thousands of eggs are releasesed. If the worm dies it can lead to severe infection so thousands of years ago someone figured out how to capture the head in a forked stick and roll up the worm an inch or two a day until it is removed. This may have been one of the first forms of medical therapy.

Like I said, I have never confirmed this anywhere else. But then again, who cares. It is a good story anyway.
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greytone
There is a parasite that I learned about in college that may have led to the development of this symbol historically. At least that is what my prof said. Mind you, this is years ago and I don't recall correct spelling and I did not have this confirmed in med school.

Dracunculus medianenses is a worm that invades your tissue if you swim in small stagnant bodies of water in Northern Africa and the Eastern Med. It then grows to length of up to 6 or more feet before forming a blister where it sticks its head out. The blister then pops when you get in water again and thousands of eggs are releasesed. If the worm dies it can lead to severe infection so thousands of years ago someone figured out how to capture the head in a forked stick and roll up the worm an inch or two a day until it is removed. This may have been one of the first forms of medical therapy.

Like I said, I have never confirmed this anywhere else. But then again, who cares. It is a good story anyway.
You got it, greytone.
In the link in Blaspheme's post it talks about that very worm, and even provides a link to a pic of one. (although, I can't verify it, as I don't feel like being sick to my stomach)

Quote:
The probable medical origin of the single serpent around a rod: In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis aka "the fiery serpent", aka "the dragon of Medina" aka "the guinea worm" crawled around the victim's body, just under the skin. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient's skin, just in front of the worm's path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by displaying a sign with the worm on a stick. [See graphic photos ]-not for the faint-hearted or Benjamin.]
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Old 01-27-2005, 10:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Who needs encylopedias when you have the TFP!

Thanks for quenching my thirst for knowledge people!
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Old 01-27-2005, 10:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great! I just finish watching AVP (Alien vs Predator) and this is the first thread I read. I'm definitely staying up for a while.
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