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Rev Infect Dis. 1991 Nov-Dec;13(6):1243-4.

Did scarlet fever and rheumatic fever exist in Hippocrates' time?

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37212.


Case histories recorded by Hippocrates around 400 B.C. describe the clinical manifestations of scarlet fever and rheumatic fever, although the entities are not identified by name. Although the descriptions are not as detailed or complete as they would be today, they strongly suggest the existence of scarlet fever and rheumatic fever at that time. Hippocrates' references to these illnesses were presumably the first to be documented and/or discovered, as a thorough search of the worldwide medical literature revealed no prior descriptions.

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