HISTORY OF DISCOVERY


Cover page of De Taenia Humana. [J]

Two nineteeth-century medical dissertations, De Taenia Solium and Taenia media-canellata, offer fascinating insights into the history of discovery of T. solium. Despite the age of the sources, the information contained in each paper is quite sophisticated and speaks to the historical impact of this parasite.

De Taenia Humana Exceprts* [7]

"Habitat in hominis intestinis tenuibus."

English Translation: "It dwells in the thin intestines of a man."

"Coitus. Sexus uterque in eodem individuo coniunctus, quod et hermaphroditum et androgynum esse potest."

English Translation: "Sexual reproduction. Both sexes have been joined in the same indivisible unit (organism), because it can be both a hermaphrosite and androgynous."

*English translations are provided by Glenwood Barbee.

 


Cover page of Taenia media-cancellata. [J]

 

Taenia media-cancellata [3]

In his dissertation, George Kennedy Frink comments that Hippocrates was one of the first to write on Taenia solium. He also mentions that another ancient Greek, Pallas, was one of the first to discover that parasites ("entezoa") "sprung from similar parents" and that this reproduction was sustained by the transmission of eggs from one host organism to another. Frink also describes an experiment that helped elucidate the life cycle of T. solium:

"The correctness and further direct proofs were given by Kuchenmeister (1852) who fed carnivora on flesh, containing cysticerci and produced Taenia and fed herbivora with ova of Taenia and produced cysticerci."

One last except from Frink's dissertation provides compelling evidence:

"Formally the T. solium was the only one recognized, but during the last thirty years authors and specialists have found or differentiated an unarmed variety of the T. solium sp., T. medio canalata, and claim that it is found more frequently than the T. solium especially in people who are great beef eaters with the exception of the Jews, Chinese, and many Oriental nations."

The primary sources demonstrate that investigators around this time period not only had an accurate sense of T. solium's epidemiology, morphology and life cycle (among other things), but also a accurate of how T. solium differed in these areas from similar cestodes (e.g. T. saginata) .