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June 11, 1938

Alkali Disease or Selenium Poisoning

JAMA. 1938;110(24):2030. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790240054030

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Although, as the author points out, the term "alkali disease" is essentially a misnomer, it remains in useand probably will be retained to designate the specific type of selenium poisoning to which it was originally applied. This monograph contains an excellent brief historical review of the development of knowledge of this disease and includes an interesting quotation suggesting that Marco Polo might have referred to alkali disease. The subsequent portion is devoted principally to the study of the disease in live stock and poultry, including a considerable number of interesting original experiments. There is little reference to the selenium problem so far as it might affect human beings but the author concludes that in certain sections the selenium problem has proved a serious handicap to agricultural development. This study serves as a useful addition to the rapidly increasing literature on selenium poisoning.

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