Beriberi in the Garrison at San Juan, Porto Rico

Bailey K. Ashford Institute of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene of Porto Rico

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The first indigenous cases of beriberi in the history of Porto Rico seem to have proceeded from United States draft troops recruited from this Island in 1918. At no time, even to the present, has this diagnosis figured in civil mortality records, nor has it been made, apparently, by any physician of the island. In fact, when the first cases were reported by Dr. Pedro Gutiérrez of the Institute of Tropical Medicine, then a captain in the medical corps for war service, the Medical Association of Porto Rico was united in sustaining that it had never before been placed in evidence as a cause of morbidity and some members expressed the opinion that the polyneuritis described might have been due to impure alcoholic intoxicants.

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