Sunday, March 26, 2017

History of diphtheria

The first human being to suffer from diphtheria may have been infected by a cow. Diphtheria has probably existed since classical antiquity. According to one theory, human beings caught most of these diseases when they first began to domesticate animals back in prehistoric times.

So diphtheria may have first infected people around 3000 BC, when the inhabitants of Mesopotamian tamed the wild aurochs, whose descendants are modern cows.

The disease was recognized as an infectious one but no more than a few stray cases were recognized in England for thirty years.
Diphtheria is a synonyme of the word Diphtherite, originally used by M. Bretonneau in his treaty on this subject, which appeared in 1826 and which is chiefly made up of his own observations on the epidemics of malignant sore throat which prevailed at Tours and in its neighborhood 1818 and again in 1825 and 1826.

In the winter of 1855 to 1856, 366 deaths from diphtheria occurred in the French city of Boulogne. By March 1858 diphtheria reached London, where it remained as endemic disease. In 1858 there was a sudden widespread appearance of severe diphtheria in England and within the year it had spread to almost every part of the globe.

Scientists in Germany and France isolated the pathogen and in 1882, it was observed under the microscope that there were numerous bacilli of an easily recognized shape in the grey ‘false membrane’ which forms on the tonsils in diphtheria.

This disease is especially significant in a modern medical history because diphtheria antitoxin, produced in a Berlin laboratory in 1890 and available on a commercial scale shortly thereafter, was the first effective therapeutic developed though bacteriological research.
History of diphtheria

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