Vol 5B (5):489-503
Medical Sciences
Total No. of Page: 15
November 1910




A General Discussion of Pellagra with Report of a Probable Case in the Philippine Islands

David Willets
Biological Laboratory, Bureau of Science, Manila, P.I.

Pellagra is a chronic or acute, afebrile or febrile, endemic and at times epidemic, probably noncontagious, systemic disease of unknown etiology, occuring chiefly among the poorer classes of maize-eating peoples. It is characterized clinically by a seasonal periodicity, a typical skin eruption, digestive disorders and nervous and mental distrubances, and pathologically by slight peculiar anatomical lessions.

The disease first occured in Spain in 1735, and now is found extensively in Italy and Roumania, in Greece, France, Austria, northern Portugal, Poland, Turkey, Africa, upper and lower Egypt, the West Indies, various parts of South America, Barbados, Mexico, and the United States, especially in the South Atlantic portion. Two cases have been reported from England, several from INdia, one from Porto Rico, and two from the Panama Canal Zone. Although the cultivation of Indian corn and its consumption as food occurs in parts of the world from which pellagra is not reported, yet pellagra is unkown in sections where maize is not used as an article of diet.

The original home of Indian corn and the dates of its introduction into Europe are apparently debatable questions, but nearly all authors agree that pellagra was not known in Europe until maize growing and eating had existed for some time. King claims North America as the original home of Indian corn and also of pellagra and states that Baruino, in 1600, described meagerly a condition among certain Indian tribes . . . . . read more