Monday, February 15, 2016

History of Lupus

Lupus is the Latin word for wolf and it is common medical lore that the ‘butterfly rash’ seen on the cheeks of many lupus patients is so similar to the facial markings of a wolf that human ancestor chose the name for this reason.

It is a common name for the disorder known technically as lupus erythematosus. This formal name includes systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – where systemic means affecting the entire body or internal system.

People have used ‘lupus’ to describe a disease since the Middle Ages. Possibly the first recorded use of the word ‘lupus’ to identify a skin disease was in AD 855, when Herbernus, the archbishop of Tours, France, wrote in his Miracles of St. Martin.

The oldest evidence of a lupus-like disease is the mummy of a 14 year-old girl who died in AD 890 in Peru. Examination of the mummy shows evidence of hair loss, leathery  skin, lung disease and inflammation around the heart.

Accurate treatises on the skin disorders associated with lupus were published in the mid-1800s by the great Viennese physicians Ferdinand von Hebra and his son-in-law Moriz Kaposi. They recognized that the symptoms of lupus extended beyond the skin and affected the organs of the body too.

In 1851 French doctor Pierre Cazanave is credited with the first use of the term lupus erythematosus.

However it was Sir William Osler, Canadian physician and the founder of residency programs in the 1890s at John Hopkins, who wrote the earliest complete treatises on lupus erythematosus between 1895 and 1903.

In 1949, at the Mayo Clinic, physician Dr Phillip Hench demonstrated that a newly discovered hormone called cortisone that could treat rheumatoid arthritis. Cortisone was used to treat SLE patients and immediately showed a dramatic ability to save lives.
History of Lupus

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