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Lupus

Origin of Lupus

01/27/2000

Question:

I`m 18 and I`ve had Lupus for 3 years now. I`d like to know where it originated from or what people were known to have symptoms of it a long time ago.

Answer:

The earliest known medical use of the word "Lupus" in English literature appeared in a 10th-century biography of St. Martin, who had lived in 4th century Gaul. "He was seriously afflicted and almost brought to the point of death by the disease called lupus.....". How the name of Lupus (wolf) came to be associated with this disease is obscure. Lupus was an ancient Roman family name, and there was St. Lupus who lived in Central France at about 600AD. I am told by a medical historian that descriptions that fit symptoms and signs of lupus have appeared in old Indian Vedic literature in BC times.

In more recent times, towards the end of the 12th century, Rogerius Frugardi, a Salernitan surgeon, described facial ulcer in lupus. Lupus remained mostly associated with ulcerated lesions of legs until the 16th century, after which it was considered primarily a facial lesion. In the early 19th century, lupus was considered merely a manifestation of tuberculosis. In 1845, von Hebra (Vienna) classified lupus as a skin disease and called it `seborrhoea congestive", which a few years later was renamed "Lupus Erythemateux". In the 1830s, Wilson described that the disease was more common in women, and Kaposi (Vienna) in 1869 described 22 patients with lupus, and suggested that it was not a manifestation of tuberculosis. Between the 1870s to 1940s, most other manifestations of the disease were described. In 1948, Hargraves (Rochester, MN) described the "LE test", the first definitive test of lupus, and in 1954, Miescher and Fauconnet (Geneva, Switzerland) described the test "ANA", which is the most commonly used test for lupus today. Now, we know that lupus occurs in almost evey country, although it is quite rare on the African continent. This description does not answer your question directly about the origin of disease, but I hope that this brief history of the disease keeps you interested to find more about it.

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Response by:

Ram Raj   Singh, MD Ram Raj Singh, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati