Malarial fevers in the fourteenth century Divine Comedy
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Mal’aria (from the Italian word “bad air,”) was widely recognized in Greece by the 5th century BCE. Hippocrates (460–370 BC) was the first to clearly describe the different types of malaria depending upon the periodicity of the fever (tertian and quartan fever patterns) and the “malarial paroxysm” (chills → fever → sweats → exacerbation). He identified the relationship of malaria to the summer/fall and marshy areas, and appreciated the diagnostic significance of splenomegaly in patients affected by malaria .
Widespread in Sicily, Sardinia and southern Italy, malaria spread northward toward the central western region of the Peninsula, and had devastating epidemic effects on its ancient populations (i.e., Etruscans, ancient Romans) . Molecular signatures of falciparum malaria have been recently identified in two young adult males from Vagnari and Velia dating between the first and second century CE, thus, predating the identification of falciparum malaria in central Italy by...
KeywordsMalaria Dante Tuscany Literature and medicine
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