In 1938 Maxime Hans Kuczynski survived a fatal experiment of inoculation with blood from a wart
Daniel Alcides Carrión García (1857 – 1885) was a Peruvian medical student after whom Carrion's disease is named. He described the disease in the course of what proved to be a fatal experiment upon himself in 1885, in order to demonstrate definitively the cause of the illness. He was inoculated by close friends with blood from a wart between the eyes of a 14-year-old patient. His aim was to prove a link between the acute blood stage of Oroya fever with that of the later chronic form of the disease Verruga Peruana typified by numerous red wart-like dermal nodules. Neither the cause nor mode of transmission of Oroya fever was then known and, furthermore, the relationship between the acute and chronic forms of the disease was not proven.
Carrion's disease has been known since Pre-Inca times.
Numerous artistic representations in clay (called "huacos") of the chronic phase have been found in endemic areas. The Spanish chronist, Garcilazo De La Vega described a disease with warts in Spanish troops during the conquest of Inca Empire, in Coaque-Ecuador. For a long time it was thought that the disease was endemic only in Peru and that it had only one phase, the "Peruvian wart" or "verruga peruana"
In 1875 an outbreak, characterized by fever and anemia occurred in the region of construction of the railroad line between Lima and Oroya. This is the source of the name "oroya fever" sometimes used to describe acute bartonellosis.
In August 1885, Daniel Alcides Carrión, a Peruvian medical student, attempted to inoculate himself with material taken from a verruga lesion of a chronic patient (Carmen Paredes), with the help of a local physician (Evaristo Chavez). After 3 weeks he developed classic symptoms of the acute phase of the disease, thus establishing a commonetiology (cause) for these two diseases. He died from bartonellosis on October 5, 1885 and was recognized as a martyr of Peruvian medicine and the term Carrión's Disease was used until our times (Peruvian Medicine Day is October 5 in honor to him).
Alberto Barton, a Peruvian microbiologist, identified Bartonella bacilliformis within erythrocytes in 1905, an announced the discovery of the etiologic agent (Barton bacillus) in 1909, which was called Bartonella bacilliformis.
CLINICAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The clinical symptoms of bartonellosis are pleomorphic and some patients from endemic areas may be asymptomatic. The two classical clinical presentations are the acute phase and the chronic phase, corresponding to the two different host cell types invaded by the bacterium (red blood cells and endothelial cells).
Acute phase: (Carrion's disease) the most common findings are fever (usually sustained, but with temperature no greater than 102 °F (39 °C)), pallor, malaise, nonpainful hepatomegaly, jaundice, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly. This phase is characterized by severe hemolytic anemia and transient immunosuppression. The case fatality ratios of untreated patients exceeded 40% but reach around 90% when opportunistic infection with Salmonella spp occurs. In a recent study the attack rate was 13.8% (123 cases) and the case-fatality rate was 0.7%.
Chronic phase: (Verruga Peruana or Peruvian Wart) it is characterized by an eruptive phase, in which the patients develop a cutaneus rash produced by a proliferation of endothelial cells and is known as "Peruvian warts" or "verruga peruana". Depending of the size and characteristics of the lesions, there are three types: miliary (1–4 mm), nodular or subdermic and mular (>5mm). Miliary lesions are the most common.
The most common findings are bleeding of verrugas, fever, malaise, arthralgias, anorexia, myalgias, pallor, lymphadeopathy, and hepato-splenomegaly.