Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: influenza

  • Encephalitis lethargica: The sweating sickness of the 1920s?

    Philip LiebsonChicago, Illinois, United States Epidemics may come and go, magically disappear, and sometimes recur. An example of this was the “sweating sickness” of sixteenth century Europe. Another example closer to our time was encephalitis lethargica, occurring as an epidemic in the late 1910s and early 1920s followed by only sporadic cases. Sporadic cases of…

  • The talented Dr. Cotton and other quacks

    Philip R. Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Portrait of Henry Andrews Cotton from Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1924. Via Wikimedia. Over the centuries there has been a surfeit of talented medical quacks in all parts of the world. The word “quack,” indeed, is derived from the archaic Dutch word “quacksalver,” meaning “boaster who…

  • Review: The History of the World in 100 Pandemics, Plagues and Epidemics

    Arpan BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom The publication of this book could not have been better timed. The book sets out to show how pandemics, epidemics, and infectious diseases have shaped human history over the last 5,000 years. Its contents help us place the current COVID-19 epidemic in its rightful historical context. Famine, war, and pestilence have…

  • The wonderful world of vaccines

    Jayant RadhakrishnanChicago, Illinois, United States Epidemics and pandemics became an issue about 10,000 years ago when hunters and gatherers became farmers and began to live in communities. Smallpox was one of the first lethal infections that spread widely. Its stigmata are seen in Egyptian mummies dating to 1570-1085 BCE. By 1500 CE, in China, India,…

  • Book review: Casanova’s Guide to Medicine

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom The eighteenth-century Italian Giacomo Casanova (1725–1798) is today best remembered for legendary amorous pursuits that resulted in his name becoming a part of the English language. What has been forgotten, however, is that he was a remarkable and erudite polymath. He graduated as a lawyer from the University of Padua…

  • Encephalitis lethargica

    Front page of Encephalitis lethargica. Its sequelae and treatment by Constantin Von Economo, 1931. Via Wikimedia. Encephalitis lethargica was a worldwide epidemic during the years 1918-1930 that resembled influenza. It was first described in Vienna in 1916 by Constantin von Economo in thirteen patients suffering from unusual neurological symptoms that he thought constituted a new…

  • Have we learned anything from 1918–1919 influenza?

    Edward WinslowWilmette, Illinois, United States 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 Both appeared suddenly and caused severe disease around the globe.3 The 1918 contagion is considered one of the worst in world history4 and…

  • Theme

    EPIDEMICS Published in March, 2020 H E K T O R A M A   . The recent coronavirus outbreak inevitably brings to mind the Spanish flu, the deadly influenza pandemic of a century ago. Here we republish seven articles about this devastating viral disease that spread to the four corners of the world, killing…