JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Assistant Editor.
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.
THE ETIOLOGY OF SCURVY. JAMA. 2004;292(8):987. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.987-b
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