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September 2, 1939

HAVERHILL FEVER: (Erythema Arthriticum Epidemicum)

JAMA. 1939;113(10):941-942. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800350051017

In January 1926 an epidemic of unusual fever occurred in a restricted area of Haverhill, Mass. The syndrome, described by Place, Sutton and Willner,1 presented (1) an abrupt onset with chills, fever, malaise, vomiting and headache; (2) an early eruption, rubellaform or morbilliform, occurring first on the extremities and tending to become hemorrhagic; (3) a multiple arthritis of varying but often of a severe and crippling degree, and (4) a fever curve of abrupt rise, with remission in from two to five days, and after a few days of relative freedom from symptoms a recurrence with which the arthritic manifestations appeared.

Parker and Hudson2 recovered from the blood and joint fluid of some of these patients a highly pleomorphic organism, which proved to be gram negative and required serum for its growth in artificial mediums.

These investigators named this organism Haverhillia multiformis, placing it in the family Mycobacteriaceae