Page:The Scientific Monthly vol. 3.djvu/138

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BOSS AND MALAEIAL FEVER 133

��RONALD ROSS AND THE PREVENTION OF MALARIAL

FEVER

By major general WILLIAM C. GORGAS

SURGEON GENERAL, U. S. ARMY AND

FIELDING H. GARRISON, M.D.

WASHINGTON, D. C.

ON Wednesday, December 10, 1902, at Stockholm, the Nobel prize for medicine, the second to be awarded, was bestowed upon Sir Ronald Ross for his demonstration of the transmission of malarial fever by mosquitoes. His immediate predecessor in the medical award was von Behring (1901), his successors were Finsen (1903), PavlofiE (1904), Koch (1905), Golgi and Ramon y Cajal (1906), Laveran (1907), Metehnikoflf and Ehriich (1908), Kocher (1909), Kossel (1910), Gull- strand (1911), Carrel (1912), Charies Richet (1913), and Robert Barany (1914). In this distinguished company it is noticeable that no less than three of the prizemen — Ross, Golgi, Laveran — were honored for their scientific work on the causation of malarial fever. To understand the significance of Ronald Ross's career, let us briefly consider the history of this disease.

Malarial fever has been known from the earliest times. It is well described in the medical writings of the ancient Greeks and Hindus. The intermittent forms, commonly known as quotidian, tertian and quartan, had already been differentiated by Hippocrates, who noted the principal symptoms, established a connection between the characteristic malarial enlargement of the spleen and marshy stagnant pools of water, and attributed the disease to the drinking of such water. Before the fifth century B.C., Greece was a mosquito-ridden country, but free from malaria. The disease was probably introduced by immigrants, as hap- pened at Mauritius in 1866. After the age of Pericles, references to it became more extensive in literature, and the resulting rural depopulation had much to do with the downfall of Greece. The physicians of modern Greece have found the swamp fevers of their country to be not different from those described by Hippocrates in Thessaly and Thrace. One of them, Cardamatis, holds that some of the labors of Hercules symbolize the reclaiming of marshy areas from malarial fever, which he thinks identical with the "epiala^^ of the poets Theognis and Homer. The philosopher Empedocles (fifth century B.C.) was actually deified by the townsmen of Selinus for freeing the Sicilian city from malarial fever by draining the swamps in its vicinity. The Romans had a special goddess of fever (Mephitis), a bald, emaciated, dropsical figure who had a temple

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