Tag Archives: infectious disease

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 […]

The Schoolhouse Lab

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Howard T. Ricketts in Mexico City laboratory. National Library of Medicine “Black measles” was a common name for spotted fever, which regularly killed people in the western United States. Symptoms included a spotty rash on the extremities, fever, chills, headache, and photophobia. No one knew what caused […]

A Cold War Vaccine: Albert Sabin, Russia, and the oral polio vaccine

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Albert Sabin (second from left) and Mikhail Chumakov (third from left). Credit: Courtesy Hauck Center for the Albert B. Sabin Archives, Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, University of Cincinnati Libraries. Fair Use. In the midst of the 2020 Covid–19 pandemic, when […]

Applause: reflections on “The Plague” and being a doctor in a pandemic

Roger Ruiz Moral Universidad Francisco de Vitoria. Madrid, Spain   Quote from the English version of The Plague by Albert Camus in the Library Walk (New York City). Accessed via Wikimedia. Sculpture by Gregg LeFevre. Photo by Heike Huslage-Koch/Lesekreis.  “I imagine then what the plague must be for you. Yes, – said Rieux – an endless defeat.”1 The COVID-19 lockdown is today […]