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J Vector Borne Dis. 2008 Sep;45(3):194-9.

Brief history of the clinical diagnosis of malaria: from Hippocrates to Osler.

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  • 1Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA.


Since antiquity, malaria had a major impact on world history but this brief historical overview focuses on clinical features of malaria from Hippocrates to Osler. In antiquity, physicians tried to differentiate malaria from other acute fevers. The classic descriptions of malaria by Hippocrates in ancient Greece and Celsus in ancient Rome are excerpted here from the original Greek and Latin. Their clear clinical descriptions prove malaria was recognized in antiquity. In the modern era, it remains difficult to clinically differentiate malaria from typhoid fever. Since physicians used the term 'typhomalaria' to describe acute undifferentiated fevers a testimony to their lack of clinical acumen. Osler, the great clinician, by careful observation in clinical features and fever patterns was able to clearly differentiate malaria from typhoid fever as did the ancients.

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