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Disease and Race

Nature volume 145, page 98 (20 January 1940) | Download Citation



A CASE which is of considerable interest in its bearing upon the racial incidence and distribution of disease is reported from Egypt by S. Azmy Pasha and A. F. Zanaty of Cairo (Lancet, 237, December 30, 1939). The patient in question, a man, thirty-five years of age, who had lived in Cairo for twelve years, but previously to that in the country, was admitted to hospital with anæmia in August 1938 and after discharge was re-admitted in a relapse in 1939. After a fortnight's treatment without improvement, a bone marrow puncture not only excluded an aleukæmic leucosis as well as a plastic anæmia, but also showed megaloblasts typical of Addisonian anæmia. Addisonian anæmia, the authors point out, has a distinct racial incidence. It is generally regarded as a disease of Nordic races and as less common among southern races. In America also a higher incidence has been recorded among immigrants from northern Europe (Anglo-Saxon) than among those of Latin extraction. It is also regarded as further supporting this view of racial susceptibility that the Finns, out of all races, are more liable to develop the disease when infested with Diphyllobothrium fatum—a parasite which produces a blood-picture indistinguishable from that of genuine Addisonian anæmia. The disease rarely occurs in Asiatics and is unknown in the tropics. In Egyptians it is extremely rare. The authors, after examining hundreds of anæmias, have found only this case now recorded, while another authority has encountered two cases only since 1935.

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