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[Perspectives] Dengue

In 1780 Benjamin Rush—a physician and a founding father of the USA—noted the appearance of an alarming epidemic in his home city of Philadelphia. Rush was familiar with the intricate nosologies of fevers generated by his late-Enlightenment colleagues, but this outbreak had a distinctive symptom: “the pains which accompanied this fever were exquisitely severe in the head, back and limbs”. He deployed the usual purging, soothing, and strengthening remedies, but with little success, and he observed that “its general name among all classes of people was the break-bone fever”.