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Tuberculosis had already been mentioned by Hippocrates
February 3, 2005

To Professor Andreas Konstantopoulos

Director of the B' Pediatric Clinic of University of Athens,

Children Hospital "P. & A. Kyriakou",

Goudi, Athens


Subject: Tuberculosis had already been mentioned by Hippocrates.


Dear Professor,


I would like to point out an inaccuracy, which was inserted in your preface of the excellent printed multilingual paper with the title "Tuberculosis. Informative paper for parents and children", which was published from your Clinic by the Outpatient Department for Tuberculosis. The specific inaccuracy is at the beginning of your preface, where you state that "tuberculosis is an old infectious disease and was first prescribed in the 3rd century B. C. by a Chinese doctor".

However, studying the texts of Hippocratic Collection (5th century B.C.) we found a lot of references about the disease "Phisis", term which is for tuberculosis and from all these references three are mentioned below:


A). It is classical, as G. Pournaropoulos mentions, tuberculosis' prescription in the hippocratic Collection, Prognosticon 22. See E. Littre, Oeuvres completes d' Hippocrate, vol. 2, Paris 1840-1844, pp. 152-153, and G. Pournaropoulos,(edit.) Hippocrates, Opera Omnia, Athens 1968, vol. 1, p. 210:


«Πρώτον μεν ο πυρετός ουκ αφίησιν, αλλά την μεν ημέρην λεπτός ίσχει, την δε νύκτα πλείων και ιδρώτες πολλοί επιγίγνονται...και οφθαλμοί έγκοιλοι γίγνονται...αι δε γνάθοι ερυθήματα έσχουσι και οι όνυχες των χειρών γρυπούνται (=Ιπποκράτειοι δάκτυλοι) και οι δάκτυλοι θερμαίνονται και μάλιστα οι άκροι...και σιτίων ουκ επιθυμέουσιν. Απόλλυνται δε ους ο πυρετός μη αφή...σιτίων δε μη επιθυμέωσιν...».


"First fever doesn't leave, but during the day is slight, at night higher and a lot of sweats are produced...and the eyes become hollow...the jaw has erythema and the nails of the hands are curved (Hippocrates' fingers) and the fingers become warm and especially their outer part...and the patients don't want food. Patients whose fever doesn't go away they die...they want no food ".


Β). «΄Οσοισι των φθισικών αι τρίχες εκ της κεφαλής ρέουσιν, υπό διαρροίης απόλλυνται. Και όσοισι φθισικοίσιν επιγίνονται διάρροιαι, θνήσκουσιν». Κωακαί προγνώσεις, 428. E. Littre, ό. π., τόμ. 5, σελ.680 και Γ. Πουρναρόπουλος, ό. π., τόμ. 3, σελ. 428.


«Tuberculosis patients who have hair loss, pass away from diarrhea. And to whose patients who diarrhea occurs, death is unavoidable", Koakai Prognosis 428. E. Littre,.... vol. 5, p. 680 and G. Pournaropoulos,.... vol. 3, p. 428.


Γ). «Φθίσις γίνεται μάλιστα ηλικίησι τήσιν από οκτωκαίδεκα ετέων μέχρι πέντε και τριήκοντα ετέων». Αφορισμοί Τμήμα Πέμπτον, 9. E. Littre, ό. π., τόμ. 4, σελ. 534. Γ. Πουρναρόπουλος, ό. π., τόμ. 2, σελ. 254.


"Tuberculosis especially occurs from eighteen to thirty five years of age", Aphorismi, Part Five, 9. E. Littre,....vol. 4, p. 534. G. Pournaropoulos,..., vol. 2, p. 254.




I think that the excellent informative multilingual paper of your Clinic should be reprinted with the reference that tuberculosis had already been described by Hippocrates.


Your sincerely



Dr. Dem. Karaberopoulos

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