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Plagues without germs/Influenza
deficient diseases - 'Hidden hunger' diseases
- some date back to the 15th century
- most are specific to the 19th century -- time when the 'germ theory' won the battle
- 'one germ, one disease' theory
Pellagra - 'Red Plague'
- red rash on the neck, the body
- first described in Ppain in 1735
- pelle agra - Italian for 'skin rough'
- appears first as a skin rash, skin then crusts and peels away
Clinical symptoms -- 4 Ds: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, death
epidemic in the US, reported in 26 states
high fatality rates, 40% in South America
- 20th century
3 million cases in the US and 100 000 deaths
- belief that pellagra was an infectious disease specific to the poor
- by 1939, evidence established that disease was due to niacin-deficiency (a water
soluble B vitamin - vitamin B3)
- niacin needed for normal oxidative metabolism of sugars
1943 - less than half of original deaths, 1948 - mandatory enrichment in 22 states
Beriberi - 'White rice' plague
- 1616 as a neurological disorder characterized by paralysis of the hands and feet
- 'kakke' meaning 'leg disease'
- white rice -- observed to be related to an increase in prevalence of beriberi
- early 1900s -- Eijkman (Dutch scientist) established that the disease is not germ-
- fed polished/unpolished rice to chickens as an experiment
- 1926, deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- thiamine is necessary for the normal cell metabolism of sugars and alcohol
- deficiency leads to malfunction in cell activity and cell death
1942, British commander in Singapore surrendered to the Japanese
50 000 allied soldiers became POW and were used to build a railway
Scurvy - 'Explorers' disease'
- earliest record at the end of 15th century
- related to sea exploration (long ocean voyages) - 'plague of the sea'
- mid to late 18th century - disease was related to nutrition and lemon juice intake
which was adopted as a practice in seamen
- James Lind (English naval surgeon) played an instrumental role
juice on board
- 19th century - outbreaks of scurvy on land - Ireland, California, New York
- led to the identification and synthesis of vitamin C (1920s and 1930s)
- vitamin C deficiency shuts down the synthesis of collagen (a major component of
connectie tissue found in tendons and ligaments and in the walls of blood vessels)
weakness and death
- old disease that became an epidemic after industrialization in England after 1650
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