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December 1961

Skin Disease in the Cuna Indians: Dermatology and Geography of the San Blas Coast of Panama

Author Affiliations


Chief of Dermatology, Gorgas Hospital, Ancon, Canal Zone.

Arch Dermatol. 1961;84(6):1013-1023. doi:10.1001/archderm.1961.01580180129020

Geography has a most important influence on the variety and incidence of skin disease. Geographic elements include terrain, climate, plant and animal life, man and his activities.

The various factors which stimulated an investigation among these relatively unknown Indians are presented as justification for this paper. Certain comments in Dermatology1 by Pillsbury, Shelley, and Kligman challenged a personal interest in tropical dermatology and in the opportunities of a tour of duty in the Canal Zone. In addition to some amusing remarks about physician tourists with notebook and camera on luxury cruises, they mentioned the work done by medical officers in tropical areas. Canizares, in a broad survey of Mexico and Central America,2 emphasized the importance of regional studies. This project began with a tourist visit to the village of Ailigandi in April, 1959, which was involuntarily prolonged by the Cuban invasion3 of the San Blas coast. Observations

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