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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 25, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(8):987. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.987-b

Although the symptomatology of scurvy differs somewhat as the disease occurs in adults and in children, prevention and cure can be effected in both apparently by the observance of certain dietetic regulations. While this fact has long been appreciated, the factors on which the disorder actually depends have never been clearly made out. The common belief is that the deterioration of the tissues that is the most conspicuous feature of the affection is due to the absence from the food of certain chemical principles contained especially in fresh vegetables, but the identity of these has not been established. It has also been suggested that the disease is of infectious origin, but here again the hypothetical causative micro-organism has not yet been isolated. In support of this latter view, Mr. Myer Coplans1 presents certain interesting evidence, obtained in the Transvaal toward the close of the Boer war and subsequently. In general, this is to the effect that the disease occurred not in those deprived of any particular article of food, but among those provided with the same diet whose surroundings, however, were of a character conducive to infection. Further, the best therapeutic results were obtained in those cases in which attention was directed to disinfection of the mouth in addition to constitutional treatment. The disease began as an inflammation of the mouth, the general symptoms following at varying intervals. Improvement or the reverse took place in direct relation to the improvement or aggravation in the condition of the gums. The treatment consisted of rest in the open air and isolation from previous surroundings, together with rigorous and frequent antisepsis of the mouth.