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Notable Notes
January 2014

It’s a Small and Dangerous World: Global Dermatologic Toponyms

Author Affiliations
  • 1Retired
  • 2private practice
JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(1):72. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.6877

Many diseases are identified by toponyms or place names. Most are infectious diseases, but others are genodermatoses found in isolated populations. Toponyms are not always viewed favorably; Q fever referred to Queensland, but after protests, its name was changed to query fever to avoid reflecting badly on the Australian state.1

The most toponymous disease is Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis. Names for its primary lesion include Aleppo (Syria) boil, Baghdad (Iraq) boil, Biskra (Algeria) button, Jericho (West Bank) button, Delhi (India) boil, Kandahar (Afghanistan) sore, and Lahore (Pakistan) sore, reflecting its wide distribution. Dum-dum fever is a synonym for visceral leishmaniasis; William Leishman worked at Camp Dum-Dum near Calcutta, India.

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