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To the Editor.—
In a recent article in the MEDICAL NEWS section ofThe Journal (1983;249:1243), N. Y. Hoffman mentions that Marion Sulzberger, MD, remembered the "Barku Rot" he suffered while working in the Australian outback. This disease is Barcoo Rot. The Barcoo River is another name for Coopers Creek, which runs from western Queensland and empties into Lake Eyre in South Australia. In the dry outback of Australia, the river is often just a string of water holes. Barcoo Rot was the slow healing of skin wounds because of scurvy caused by a diet that consisted mainly of damper (bread baked in a camp fire) and billy-boiled tea (a billy is the type of all-purpose cooking pot celebrated in "Waltzing Matilda," Australia's national song). The term was also loosely applied to many other skin ailments encountered by those who worked in this sparsely inhabited part of Australia.
Liston SL. Barcoo Rot. JAMA. 1983;249(23):3174. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330470016013
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