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Inside Doctor Livingstone: a Scottish icon's encounter with tropical disease

  • MICHAEL P. BARRETT (a1) and FEDERICA GIORDANI (a1)
Summary
SUMMARY

Dr David Livingstone died on May 1st 1873. He was 60 years old and had spent much of the previous 30 years walking across large stretches of Southern Africa, exploring the terrain he hoped could provide new environments in which Europeans and Africans could cohabit on equal terms and bring prosperity to a part of the world he saw ravaged by the slave trade. Just days before he died, he wrote in his journal about the permanent stream of blood that he was emitting related to haemorrhoids and the acute intestinal pain that had left him incapable of walking. What actually killed Livingstone is unknown, yet the years spent exploring sub-Saharan Africa undoubtedly exposed him to a gamut of parasitic and other infectious diseases. Some of these we can be certain of. He wrote prolifically and described his encounters with malaria, relapsing fevers, parasitic helminths and more. His graphic writing allows us to explore his own encounters with tropical diseases and how European visitors to Africa considered them at this time. This paper outlines Livingstone's life and his contributions to understanding parasitic diseases.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK. E-mail: Michael.Barrett@glasgow.ac.uk
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