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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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(II) The disease called elephantiasis is a monstrous inflammation of the feet, from the knees to the toes, accompanied by hardening and thickening of the epidermis, with progressive insensitivity. The faculty of movement is diminished by the swelling of the limbs. Sometimes we find that the foot thickens, measuring eight to ten inches in diameter, and the toes appear lost in the midst of the limb's enormity. Often, it is one of the feet that swells to such a high degree; and we note that the disease generally attacks men more than women, so it contrasts somewhat with the endemic mumps of Sao Paulo, which is more common in females. In whites, we have never seen this disease. It appears that the outgrowths proceed more from malfunctioning of the glands, and that it is not a skin disorder. This disease, due to its slow progress, is not painful, and, as little as the rest of the organism at first seems to participate in, has a lot of resemblance to many forms of morphea, being considered in Brazil, generally as a species of the same disease. However, it is much less contagious. What seems certain is that its pathogenic condition consists in inflammation of the lymphatic vessels of the extremities and consequent obstruction of them by the thickened lymph, determining their discharge into the cellular tissue, inflammation of the same, progressive degeneration and excrescence throughout the cutaneous system. Fever does not always appear, even when the disease is already formed: but with signs of weakness and atony, lack of appetite, inflammation or tearing of the eyes, the evil is foretold, which can last for years, and after that, transitioning to tuberculosis or hydrops. The surface of the skin stretches, becomes hard, insensitive, and sometimes without excrescence, sometimes covered with warts, calluses, cracks, scales, pustules and scabies. Skin color rarely changes, or changes from black to grayish black. If this disease has a special relation with the sexual system, we do not know, we never observed it, however, before the development of puberty, and more often at the age of 36 to 50 years. The appearance of elephantiasis on the Minas plateau, where we find it much more often than anywhere else, seems to confirm the observation, made by many doctors, that the disease predominates mainly in open regions without forests. As is well known, it reigns in several of the Antilles, as noted in Barbados and Antigua. We found several patients suffering from this disease in the most terrible abandonment, because the disgraced had been released by their masters, in order to avoid contagion to their companions. Antimony and arsenic are commonly used in Brazil as the most effective means of curing the disease, and this system seems to agree with that of Dr. Martius, who has successfully treated it with black pepper and gum arabic pills and a grain of arsenic for five days, in addition to the drink made by cooking a root.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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