Illness Name Origins

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Tourette’s Syndrome
The French neurologist George Gilles de la Tourette first described the illness in 1884 and initially named it ‘maladie des tics’. After he died, his mentor Jean-Martin Charcot renamed the illness after his friend, recognising all the work that Tourette had carried out on the illness.

Chicken Pox
The spots of chicken pox were reported to look very much like chick peas, with the same cream colour and surface texture. It was C.H. Fagge who first wrote this in his book The Principles and Practices of medicine, written in 1886.

Crohn’s Disease
After his father was suffering with awful indigestion for most of his life, Dr. Burrill B. Crohn decided to study afflictions of the stomach. It was in 1932 that he reported the cause of the illness as localised inflammation of the ileum in the small intestine.

Legionnaires’ Disease
The first recognized cases of this bacterial pneumonia occurred in 1976, at an American Legion convention held in Philadelphia at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, 221 attendees contracted the disease and 34 of them died. It is spread chiefly by water droplets through air conditioning and similar systems.

Asperger’s Syndrome
Coined in 1944, Hans Asperger named the disease after he observed a group of children and described their illness as ‘autistic psychopathy’. However, since all of the research was written in German, his contributions didn’t become known until much later.

Parkinson’s Disease
A political activist, geologist, and surgeon, Parkinson first worked on this illness which he described as ‘paralysis agitans’. It wasn’t until 60 years later that the disease was renamed Parkinson’s.

Lyme Disease
As the disease originated in North America, it’s named after Lyme, New York because of the copious amounts of ticks found there who carry the disease. There was a huge epidemic there in the 1970s which was when the disease was first properly recognised.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
In 1865, the illness was called Hodgkin’s Disease after Thomas Hodgkin’s work in the field, which he worked on while at Guy’s Hospital in London in 1932. It was also one of the first cancers to be treated using radiation therapy.

Ebola Virus
After deciding that the virus should be named after the location in which it was first contracted, it was named Ebola, as this was the closest river. The name also seemed fitting as ‘Ebola’ means ‘black river’ in the local language Lingala.

Alzheimer’s Disease
In 1901, Alois Alzheimer analysed a 51-year-old woman at an asylum who had no short term memory. When she died he dissected her brain and presented the illness as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Malaria
Translated as ‘bad air’ in Italian, the name dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, as they thought the disease was air-borne. We have since proved this is wrong, however, the name stuck.

Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Often referred to as Motor Neurone Disease in the UK and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in America, this illness is sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the baseball legend Lou Gehrig died from the disease in 1939.

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