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Revista médica de Chile

versión impresa ISSN 0034-9887


CASCELLA, Marco. The controversial experiments on the intravenous administration of drugs (and air!) during the cholera epidemic of 1867 in Italy. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2015, vol.143, n.12, pp.1593-1597. ISSN 0034-9887.

Cholera ravaged many American and European cities in the nineteenth century. Likewise, Italy was struck by six epidemics since the morbus first appeared in 1835-1837. After the International Sanitary Conferences held in Paris in 1851, there was a decrease of the cases due to consolidation of the city in terms of public and private health. Nevertheless, due to the lack of alternative and innovative remedies, the mortality remained unchanged, affecting more than 60 percent of patients. The city of Brescia in Northern Italy was severely hit by the epidemic of 1867. Not being able to implement effective therapeutic strategies, the administration of drugs like quinine and strychnine was proposed to be done intravenously. The results of intravenous injections were ominous, and all the patients died of ‘sudden death’. Alhtough the academic authorities forbade further experiments, some physicians carried on a long trial using test animals and mental patients as ‘guinea pigs’.

Palabras clave : Administration, intravenous; Cholera morbus; Gastroenteritis; Mentally ill persons.

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