Infectious Disease | Hektoen International

Jewish ritual immersion in the mikveh and the concept of communal immunity

Robert Stern, Piotr Kozlowski, and David Forstein New York City, New York, United States (Spring 2018)   Figure 1. Mikveh in Palestine from the Biblical era The mikveh may be seen as part of the sociobiological process assuring the gradual cross exposure of community members to the biomes of other members. It also provides controlled exposure to […]

Washington’s deadliest enemy

Kathryn Tone Wiesbaden, Germany (Winter 2018)    George Washington, John Trumbull, 1790 As Commander of the Continental Army, General George Washington is famously remembered for the surprise 1776 Christmas attack on the Hessian garrison in Trenton, New Jersey. A bold, relatively spontaneous decision, the attack was a last-ditch effort to salvage some sort of victory after […]

The hidden history of Lomidine

M. Sophia Newman Chicago, Illinois, United States (Winter 2018)   The shot against sleeping sickness brought me so many problems The shot against sleeping sickness hurt me so… They pricked me in the back… And still, they want to send me to draw water If I try to slow my step The policeman hits me […]

Bugs and people: when epidemics change history

Salvatore Mangione Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States (Winter 2018)    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer, woodcut, c.1496-8 From left to right, Death (with a trident), Famine (with scales), War (with a sword) and Plague (with the arrows of pestilence) are crushing under their horses’ hooves all those unfortunate enough to stand in their wake. […]

Path of compassion

Raisa Zubareva Warsaw, Poland (Winter 2018)   Kate Marsden, photographed in 1892 before she set off for Sakha in Siberia to search for a herb said to cure leprosy. Photo by Otto Renard, Moscow. In humble circumstances in one of London’s asylums for the insane, Kate Marsden, a nurse and philanthropist who devoted her life to saving […]

Disease mapping: tracing the urban epidemic

Astrid Primadhani Jakarta, Indonesia (Winter 2018)   Snow’s map analysis to Thessian polygons (Cliff & Haggert) (1988): Atlas of Disease Distributions In August 1854 a deadly cholera outbreak struck the Soho neighborhood of London.1 Within thirty-six hours, rapid death ensued as the dense and unsanitary condition of the working-class neighborhood became a haven for the […]

Tales from the crypt: the mosaic symbolism of Louis Pasteur’s tomb

Abigail Cline Augusta, Georgia, United States (Winter 2018)   Louis Pasteur’s tomb at the Pasteur Institute Hidden behind the Montparnasse Railway Station is the elegant brick and stone building of the Pasteur Institute. Since its opening in 1887, the Pasteur Institute has been on the front line in the battle against infectious disease. Consisting of […]

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 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. The nervous system, […]