Chagas Disease: History of a Continent's Scourge


Between 1909 and 1911, the young Brazilian physician and microbiologist Carlos Chagas described an infection, its intermediate host, and the illness that he believed it caused, parasitic thyroiditis. Chagas's work inaugurated a history of discovery, and the malady that came to bear his name continues to be one of Latin America's most serious endemic diseases. Yet, as François Delaporte argues in Chagas Disease, in the mid-1930s the disease entity that Chagas had described was shown to be a nosological illusion, and twenty-five years of scientific controversy turned out to have been based on a misunderstanding. Delaporte traces discoveries, dead ends, and epistemic shifts that marked the early history of the disease. He asks anew about the value of discoveries underwritten by error, inquires as to how debates on clinical and theoretical knowledge are structured and play out, and shows how an epistemological focus can add depth to the history of medicine.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Todd Meyers
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2012


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