He caught yellow fever while tracking it between Mississippi and Louisiana; dengue while studying in Texas; typhus by pursuing it in Mexico. But the pellagra never managed to catch Joseph Goldberger. Born in Hungary in 1874, emigrated in his childhood to the United States then became a doctor in the American Public Health Service at the dawn of the century, the man will nevertheless have spent the last fifteen years of his life scrutinizing this mysterious and dramatic disease. , which then wreaked havoc on poor farmers in the southern states. Its clinical manifestations? The “4 D’s”: dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death. The skin becomes red as after a sunburn and becomes rough, even scaly, mainly on the hands, feet, chest and face; finally, serious disorders of the digestive tract and the nervous system appear.
Observed for the first time in Spanish peasants in 1735, this “leprosy” which, at the beginning of the XXe century, kills 40% of its victims,