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August 11, 1975

Dog Days and Siriasis: How to Kill a Football Player

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Veterans Administration Hospital, Dallas.

JAMA. 1975;233(6):513-515. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260060023012

NOT TOO many years ago, the term "dog days" was applied to a period in July and August that was generally hot and miserable. The term originated from the fact that at that time of the year, the dog star, Sirius, rose each morning with the sun. Since heat stroke was apt to occur at this time, it was resolved that the star itself was the instrument of the malady. The name as a consequence became siriasis.

I first became aware of the term siriasis while chatting with an engineer at an after-dinner gathering some years ago. He was one of those crafty devils who pitted his personal knowledge of medicine with yours and seemed to thrive on discovery of an intellectual hiatus, be it ever so minuscule. With obvious expectation of erudite comment, he informed me that he had once experienced a severe attack of siriasis. As he anticipated,