Insights into infectious disease in the era of Hippocrates

Int J Infect Dis. 2008 Jul;12(4):347-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2007.11.003. Epub 2008 Feb 21.


Hippocrates is traditionally considered the father of modern medicine, still influencing, 25 centuries after his time, various aspects of medical practice and ethics. His collected works include various references to infectious diseases that range from general observations on the nature of infection, hygiene, epidemiology, and the immune response, to detailed descriptions of syndromes such as tuberculous spondylitis, malaria, and tetanus. We sought to evaluate the extent to which this historical information has influenced the modern relevant literature. Associating disease to the disequilibrium of body fluids may seem an ancient and outdated notion nowadays, but many of the clinical descriptions presented in the Corpus Hippocraticum (Hippocratic Collection) are still the archetypes of the natural history of certain infectious diseases and their collective interplay with the environment, climate, and society. For this reason, modern clinicians and researchers continue to be attracted to these 'lessons' from the past - lessons that remain extremely valuable.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control / history
  • Communicable Diseases / history*
  • Communicable Diseases / physiopathology
  • Disease Outbreaks / history*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Philosophy, Medical / history*