Pellagra was a disease that affected hundreds of thousands of residents within the southeastern region of the United States from the time of its first known reports in the early 1900's to the end of World War II, in 1945. Dr. Joseph Goldberger, from New York, was given credit for finding the cure for Pellagra. Contributing to the Goldberger's cure were the discoveries of doctors and scientists prior to and during the time that Dr. Goldberger was working on the cure himself.
Pellagra was a painful disease that over time slowly killed the people that were afflicted with the disease. Pellagra, occurring almost exclusively in the poorer classes, is easily observed by the discoloration and thickening of the skin (usually the hands, neck, and the feet). The lesions on the skin are usually spread evenly, symmetrical on both sides of the body. Other symptoms of pellagra are reddened tongue and a scalding sensation in the mouth. This disease eventually causes weakness, nervousness, indigestion, and in advanced stages, diarrhea and various forms of insanity. (Trail To Light p. 288).
Pellagra was a disease that had already been dealt with in southern Europe for nearly two hundred years prior to the first reported case in the United States (The Butterfly Caste, Preface VII). Pellagra was first noticed by Spanish peasants, and reported by Don Gaspar Casal in 1735 (War on Pellagra, p.1). The disease was often mistaken for leprosy. Pellagra, meaning, "rough skin", was first termed in 1771 by Francesco Frapolli in Milan (American Heritage, p.74). At first, this disease was viewed as a disease of the poor, but later it was linked to poverty that was common in southern Europe.
Dr. Harris, a physician from Atlanta, Georgia, first reported pellagra in the United States in March 1902, after examining a Georgia farmer who had been suffering with seasonal outbreaks of the pellagra rash for some fifteen years (The Butterfly Caste, PP.3-4). What Dr. Harris observed...