Tag Archives: infectious disease

COVID-19 and the Black Death

Colleen Donnelly  Denver, Colorado, United States   A street during the plague in London with a death cart and mourners. Colour wood engraving by E. Evans. Wellcome Library no. 6918i. Source During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter […]

Darling of Panama

Enrique Chaves-Carballo Kansas City, Kansas, United States   Samuel Taylor Darling at age 51, portrait by Underwwod & Underwood, 1923. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Samuel Taylor Darling, widely considered as the foremost American tropical parasitologist and pathologist of his time, was born in Harrison, New Jersey on April 6, 1872. […]

The scourge, the scientist, and the swindle

Anne Jacobson Oak Park, Illinois, United States   Alice Augusta Ball, 1915. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain) “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as […]

Maxwell Finland: expert in infectious diseases

Martin Duke Mystic, Connecticut, United States   Maxwell Finland in the senior yearbook from the Harvard Class Album 1922. (Credit: HUD 322.04 page 181. Harvard University Archives.) Maxwell Finland (1902-1987) was a remarkable physician, teacher, and researcher in infectious diseases. His life began during the turmoil of the pogroms in Tsarist Russia and ended in […]

Use of masks to control the spread of infection: more than a century of confusion

Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States   The above photograph is from the archives of the Cook County Hospital when it closed. It was taken in the surgical amphitheater in the main building. The year is not known. The photograph demonstrates an operation being carried out by masked and gowned surgeons and the scrub nurse […]

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and smallpox

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. A painting of Mary Wortley Montagu by Jonathan Richardson the Younger. Via Wikimedia. There are few examples of people with no medical training who independently make significant advances in medical practice. One such person was the elegant, aristocratic Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)—daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, 1st Duke […]

Rheumatic fever: evolution of causal concepts and management

Amogh BJ Trivandrum, Kerala, India Nanditha Venkatesan Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India   For centuries rheumatic fever (RF) and its sequelae scourged the lives of millions of people. Despite a substantial decline in deaths from the disease, rheumatic heart disease remains a problem, especially in areas of poverty. Over the past few centuries, a growing understanding of […]

Navigating the waters of post-COVID survivorship

Denise Bockwoldt Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash. On the TV news, COVID survivors are being rolled out of the hospital in wheelchairs, applauded and cheered on by a crowd of hospital staff. “They’ve recovered!” the reporter announces happily. It is a hopeful sign for everyone who fears this virus, […]

Mary Niles and the Canton rats

Edward McSweegan Kinston, Rhode Island, United States   Doctor Mary West Niles, Wikipedia  Bubonic plague arrived in Honolulu in December 1899. A month later it had spread to San Francisco, where the infection caused a series of deadly outbreaks until 1907.1 But for decades before plague reached the American west coast, it had burned through […]

Have we learned anything from 1918-1919 influenza?

Edward Winslow Wilmette, Illinois, United States   Actual daily deaths from influenza, September to November 1918. Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Health, December 1918. NYC Municipal Library. Source.  The 2020 viral pandemic (COVID-19),1 in spite of being caused by a novel virus family, bears striking epidemiological and social resemblance to the influenza pandemic of 1918.2 […]