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May 1961

The Margarine Disease

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology (Dr. Hermans, Professor and Chairman; Dr. Doeglas, Assistant); and the Department of Epidemiology, City Public Health Department, City of Rotterdam (Dr. Huisman, Epidemiologist).

Arch Dermatol. 1961;83(5):837-843. doi:10.1001/archderm.1961.01580110125018

During the months of August and September, 1960, Holland was the scene of an epidemic outbreak of an eruption which caused wide repercussions and is of interest to dermatologists.1

On Monday, Aug. 22, the Public Health Department records of the City of Rotterdam showed that over the week end some patients had been admitted with an exanthema and high temperatures. A few similar cases had been seen at the clinics of the Dermatological Department in the previous week, and many cases were being reported by general practitioners throughout the city. Most doctors suggested a virus as the possible cause, and others, various foods. One of these suggestions concerned the recently introduced "improved" Planta margarine. Planta is a salt-free "vegetable" margarine made by one of the big margarine-producing companies.

That same day the city epidemiologist and the dermatologist checked 40 cases of the disease in their homes. The patients showed