Chagas Disease: History of a Continent's Scourge

Chagas Disease: History of a Continent's Scourge

by Francois Delaporte, Arthur Goldhammer, Todd Meyers
     
 

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Between 1909 and 1911, Carlos Chagas described a pathogenic trypanosome, its intermediate host, and the illness he believed it caused, parasitic thyroiditis. He described a domestic insect and an endocrine disease caused by a parasite, which was called Chagas Disease.

In 1935, a new form of parasitosis, called American trypanosomiasis, appeared. It soon came to

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Overview


Between 1909 and 1911, Carlos Chagas described a pathogenic trypanosome, its intermediate host, and the illness he believed it caused, parasitic thyroiditis. He described a domestic insect and an endocrine disease caused by a parasite, which was called Chagas Disease.

In 1935, a new form of parasitosis, called American trypanosomiasis, appeared. It soon came to be seen as one of Latin America's most serious endemic diseases. The revelation of what was called "Romaña's sign" (a palpebral edema) marked a transformation in medical knowledge of the disease. Not only was the disease that Chagas had described shown to be an illusion, but twenty-five years of scientific controversy turned out to have been based on a misunderstanding.

This book examines the various discoveries, dead ends, controversies, and major epistemological transformations that marked the history of Chagas Disease. It shows how an epistemological focus can add depth and complexity to the history of medicine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
". . . Explores the history of the identification and disease classification of Chagas Disease." -Book News Inc

"In this finely crafted monograph, Francois Delaporte tackles one of the most complex diseases, American trypanosomiasis, known as Chagas Disease. Through his skillful dissection, he shows how complicated its discovery actually was, and offers wonderful insights into the international dimensions of Brazilian medical science in the early twentieth century. It is good to have this important work available in English." -W. F. Bynum, MD, PhD, FRCP, Professor Emeritus, University College London

"Delaporte's brilliant historical exploration of Chagas' disease covers the decisive period of 1909-1935. The strength of the study is the exhaustive discussion of the scientific literature, the subtle examination of fundamental shifts in conceptual frameworks, and the unrelenting interrogation of the crucial role that chance and error play in scientific research. What Delaporte has written is a comédie humaine of post-colonial science." -Carlo Caduff, King's College, London

"If Delaporte is correct then Chagas did not discover the causative organisms of American trypanosomiasis, did not work out the life cycle in the bug and did not discover the disease. So why is he so revered? Delaporte thinks that this is because Chagas was an expert at reformulating the past by rewriting history."-Parasitology

"Several points about the discovery of Chagas disease as described in the book are striking."-The Lancet

"Interestingly, Delaporte makes the very same criticism to the social studies of knowledge in which the aforementioned critics could be cast out. In his view those who establish causal linkages between the context of knowledge and scientific knowledge undertake an ahistorical task since they take for granted self-evident objects. According to Delaporte, these kinds of objects obscure the never foreordained historicity of what men do in order to be able to speak about things.—Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Project Muse)

"'Chagas Disease' is a page-turner, where the reader is invited to wonder what will happen next." -International Studies in the Philosophy of Science

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823242504
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
08/14/2012
Series:
Forms of Living (FUP) Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

FRANÇOIS DELAPORTE is Professor of Philosophy at the Université de Picardie-Jules Verne. Several of his books have earlier appeared in English translation, among them Anatomy of the Passions and A Vital Rationalist: Selected Writings from Georges Canguilhem.

ARTHUR GOLDHAMMER is Senior Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

TODD MEYERS is Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at Wayne State University.

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