The disease which is now called diphtheria is believed to have been prevalent in Europe for a long time. We have reason to think that it occurred at first chiefly in epidemics. The great increase of population and travel during the past one hundred years with its necessary mingling of infected and non-infected persons has aided its dissemination, so that it is endemic in many countries.
THE IDENTITY OF "CROUP" AND LARYNGEAL DIPHTHERIA
It is very important when studying deaths from diphtheria to remember that physicians did not formerly recognize, as we now do, that various forms of ulcerated throat and croup are forms of a single disease. In fact they did not realize this until Bretonneau in 1826 appreciated the fact and gave the disease, however manifested, the name of diphtheria. Bretonneau's statements were soon accepted by many in France, but were not so quickly adopted in the rest
PARK WH. THE RÔLE OF ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION IN THE DISCOVERIES LEADING TO OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE OF THE ETIOLOGY, PREVENTION AND CURE OF DIPHTHERIA. JAMA. 1912;LVIII(7):453–459. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260020137001
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