Infectious Disease | Hektoen International

Salk and Sabin: the disease, the rivalry and the vaccine

Kevin Loughlin Boston, MA (Winter 2018)   Jonas Salk was born in a tenement in the East Harlem section of New York City. Albert Sabin was born in Poland and as a child immigrated to the United States with his parents. From these humble beginnings, they would emerge as two of the preeminent scientists of […]

Polio conundrums

Denis Gill Dublin, Ireland (Fall 2017)   Ancient Egyptian stele of Ruma For most children, infection with the polio virus caused no symptoms or a minor illness.  But about 1% of those infected experienced paralysis of one or both lower limbs. Worse still, bulbar paralysis could lead to the  inability to breathe. The effects of […]

Leprosy: A nearly forgotten malady

JMS Pearce Department of Neurology, Hull Royal Infirmary (Fall 2017)   Fig 1. Patient at St. Jørgen’s Hospital Leprosy was the first proven instance of a bacterium causing a human disease. Along with plague, poliomyelitis, and smallpox, leprosy has beleaguered mankind for millennia, causing devastating and often fatal infections that were historically impossible to  cure or prevent. […]

Public health measures derived from the Jewish tradition: III. The Bris: Jewish ritual circumcision and hemophilia

Matthew Migliozzi, David Forstein, Sarah Rindner & Robert Stern New York City, NY (Fall 2017)   The circumcision of Isaac. The Regensburg Pentateuch, 1305, now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Historically, Jewish contributions to public health measures have not been given adequate attribution. The previous articles in this series have documented (1) the ancient Jewish […]

Katherine Anne Porter and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

Cristóbal S. Berry-Cabán Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, NC (Summer 2017)   Fig 1. Katherine Anne Porter.  Photograph taken in Mexico, 1930. In Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter weaves the horrors of the Great War, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and the near-death experience of a young woman in love with a doomed […]

Reflections on early 20th century tuberculosis: a juxtaposition of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Edward L. Trudeau’s Autobiography

Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio (Spring 2017)   Abandoned German TB sanitarium The early twentieth century was an auspicious time for medicine. Physicians of the era would be the first to transform the mysterious “captain of all these men of death” into a living, “breathing” bacillus named Mycobacterium tuberculosis.1 As a corollary of the fundamental discovery, […]

Ernest Black Struthers: missionary life, kala azar, and military strife

Peter Kopplin Toronto, Canada   Claude Monet (1899) Nadar (Public domain) In 1934 the third edition of Cecil’s A Textbook of Medicine contained a chapter by an academically obscure missionary in China.[1]  Russell Cecil, still editing the book by himself with only the help of a neurology colleague, chose Ernest Black Struthers to write about […]

Bari in the seventh cholera pandemic

Salvatore Barbuti University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy Domenico Martinelli & Rosa Prato Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy (Winter 2017)   Gazzetta del Mezzoggiorno, Bari, Italy, 31st August 1973. Photo Courtesy of Prof. Salvatore Barbuti’s private collection. It all began on a quiet warm afternoon in August 1973 when […]

Public health measures derived from the Jewish tradition: II. Washing and cleaning

Noam Zeffren, Tova Chein and Robert Stern New York, New York (Winter 2017)   Figure 1. The laver in the Temple in Jerusalem Introduction Historically, Jewish contributions to public health measures have not been given adequate attribution. The previous article in this series (Hektoen International, Winter 2016) documented the ancient Jewish recognition of the importance […]

Quarantining souls: the impact of plague village

Anahita Dua Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, United States (Summer 2015)   Eyam church and graveyard where plague victims are buried. Infectious diseases have debilitated or ended more lives in history than any other illness. Quarantine, from the Italian quaranta, has been implemented since the fourteenth century as the cornerstone of a coordinated […]