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Old 07 December 2014, 11:32 AM
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Snake Caduceus origins

Comment: I heard that the caduceus was used as a health symbol because of
a human leg parasite, which had to be removed really slowly by wrapping it
around a staff, and the parasite was so long that if you started at the
head of the crossbar part, it would twist all the way down and back up to
the crossbar again.

This is such a cool story, I can't help telling it, but I want to make
sure it's true, so I don't spread misinformation accidentally.
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  #2  
Old 07 December 2014, 03:38 PM
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The worm in question is the Guinea Worm. It's about as horrible as it sounds.

Apparently, there is some credence to the rumour, at least according to the CDC:

Quote:
Many believe that the symbol of medicine, the caduceus, which shows a snake wrapped around a stick, may actually represent a Guinea worm. With future generations not knowing this disease, medicine’s very symbol will have a new significance.
http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/guineaworm/gwep.html
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Old 07 December 2014, 08:03 PM
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It's sad that the CDC made the mistake of confusing the Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus. And they don't really say there's any evidence to support it, just that many people believe it.

The caduceus is not historically a symbol of medicine at all, except for its relatively recent (mistaken) use as such in the US.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduc...ol_of_medicine
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Old 07 December 2014, 09:14 PM
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That explains it. I was reading the blurb thinking, "What does this have to do with two snakes and wings?"
But if it is the origins of the rod of Asclepias that is interesting.
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Old 07 December 2014, 11:43 PM
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I always thought the caduceus had something to do with the legend of Tiresias, who was turned into a woman for 7 years after striking 2 mating snakes with his staff. What this had to do with medicine I have no idea. I suppose I thought Tiresias was a doctor of some kind.
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Old 08 December 2014, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
The caduceus is not historically a symbol of medicine at all, except for its relatively recent (mistaken) use as such in the US.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduc...ol_of_medicine
As a transplanted Canuck, I can attest that I've not seen it used in Canada to represent medicine. That said, it doesn't mean that it doesn't, I've just never seen it.

OY
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Old 09 December 2014, 02:25 PM
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Someone must have thought, "If one snake around a rod means a good doctor, two snakes around the same rod must make the doctors twice as good!"


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Old 09 December 2014, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
As a transplanted Canuck, I can attest that I've not seen it used in Canada to represent medicine. That said, it doesn't mean that it doesn't, I've just never seen it.

OY
It is not common, but hanging around the doctor's office you can see it in a fair amount of literature.

Our military's medical branch has it as their symbol. As well as the Canadian Medical Association.
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Old 09 December 2014, 02:44 PM
Dr. Dave Dr. Dave is offline
 
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I thought that here the rod with one snake was a sort of symbol of medicine (well, it is from the Greek God of Healing) and the two snake caduceus is military medicine and U.S. Public Health Service. How the latter happened I have no idea.
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