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February 17, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(7):557-558. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810070023005

Under the term "heatstroke" are herein included four deaths from hyperpyrexia, one caused by insolation or "sunstroke," and three from artificially induced pyrexia by the so-called fever machine.

Historically this affliction is as old as Biblical times, being described in 2 Kings (Osler1). The early Arabians felt that Sirius, the Dog Star, in some way was responsible for the symptomatology and called the disease "siriasis." During the British occupation of India and subsequently, heatstroke has received considerable attention, but the pathologic condition in the fatal cases has apparently been decidedly secondary to the clinical manifestations. Osier1 dispenses with the morbid anatomy in these few words: "Rigor mortis occurs early and putrefactive changes may come on with great rapidity. The venous engorgement is extreme, particularly in the cerebrum. The left ventricle is contracted (Wood) and the right chamber dilated. The blood is usually fluid; the lungs are intensely congested.