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Revista chilena de infectología

Print version ISSN 0716-1018


DUARTE, Ignacio. Scrofula in the 19th century. Rev. chil. infectol. [online]. 2017, vol.34, n.1, pp.55-59. ISSN 0716-1018.

In the 19th century scrofula or scrofulous adenitis was a frequent condition estimated by the finding of swollen cervical lymph nodes or scars, occurring in both sexes at all epochs of life, mainly in children. It was thought that it principally affected people with an inherited phlegmatic constitution that involved a scrofulous disposition or "diathesis". The disease would be triggered by environmental agents, bad habits or excesses in style of life. Besides injuring cervical lymph nodes, in some cases scrofula could compromise other groups of lymph nodes, bones, joints, lungs or other viscera. In some of its clinical presentations the disease could be healed while others were often lethal disorders. The finding of multiorgan compromise, caseation and "tuberculization" of the lesions originated discussion whether scrofula and tuberculosis were one or two different diseases and if they affected subjects with a common diathesis or people with a distinct scrofulous or tuberculous diathesis. Along the 19th century, before the discovery of Koch's bacillus, the notion of contagion as a cause of scrofula and tuberculosis was not predominant in Europe.

Keywords : Scrofula; tuberculosis; lymphadenitis; diathesis.

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