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September 1959

An Epidemic of Infectious Erythema in Germany

Author Affiliations


From the Skin Clinic of the Free University of Berlin (Director, Prof. Dr. Spier).

AMA Arch Derm. 1959;80(3):283-285. doi:10.1001/archderm.1959.01560210025005

By the end of October, 1958, there occurred in Berlin an outbreak of an apparently new skin eruption which soon exploded into epidemic proportions. Similar cases had previously been reported from Kiel, Hamburg, Münster, Bremen, and Osnabrück, which caused the disorder to be named morbus Osnabrück (Osnabrücker Krankheit). The high incidence of the rash caused considerable concern among the public, which was increased by alarming articles in the tabloids warning against a mysterious new skin disease. Thus, the common and traditional, almost mystic, fear of skin infections caused school classes to be closed and workers to be sent home from their jobs, and it even overshadowed the political uneasiness in the former capital.

Gradually, a more sober evaluation of the spreading disorder took place, and it became evident that this was not a "new" skin condition but that it was identical with the erythema infectiosum, also

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