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August 1962

Lost and Found: Agricola's Original Description of Occupational Dermatitis (1558)

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Arch Dermatol. 1962;86(2):234-235. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590080104016

The relationship of occupation and disease can be traced back to the far reaches of antiquity. The scribes of ancient Egypt noted that soldiers and slaves were particularly prone to suffer from certain injuries, wounds, and exposure to communicable diseases; that the scholars and those of sedentary occupation suffered from poor eyesight, gastrointestinal and neurotic symptoms, while those in the upper strata of society suffered the effects of lavish living. Hippocrates mentioned the diseases of wet-nurses and fullers, the callosities of equestrians, and the ulcers to be found in fishermen; and Pliny the Elder mentioned the illnesses present in slaves. Paul of Aegina wrote discourses on rules of hygiene to be followed by those who journeyed by land and sea, which dealt chiefly with occupational hygiene and proved to be very popular throughout the Middle Ages.

The gathering of the isolated observations on occupational diseases including the dermatergoses into a

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