Parasitology, Harold W. Manter Laboratory of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Journal of Parasitology (September 1914) 1(1): 10-21.

Paper read before Section K, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Atlanta, Georgia, January 2, 1914.


Public domain material.



With the growing interest in pellagra, following the authoritative recognition of its presence in the United States in 1907, the study of its etiology was taken up by various investigators and the several theories of causation were subjected to close scrutiny.

Prominent among these theories was that of insect transmission, first advanced by Sambon, who limited this function to the species of blood-sucking gnats comprising the genus Simulium.

The importance of the disease and the possibility of such a factor in its causation, led the Bureau of Entomology, late in 1911, to undertake an investigation of the subject in South Carolina, to which locality attention had been directed by the state authorities. The writer and W. V. King were, early in 1912, assigned by Dr. L. 0. Howard, Chief of the Bureau of Entomology, United States Department of Agriculture, under the direction of Mr. W. D. Hunter of the Bureau, to investigate the possible relation of insects to pellagra and to gather such data as might serve to indicate whether there was ground for the assumption that blood-sucking or other arthropods were involved in the transmission of the disease in that region.

In June, 1812, the Thompson-McFadden Pellagra Commission of the Department of Tropical Medicine, New York Post-Graduate Medical School, established its laboratory and began its field work at Spartanburg, in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Through the courtesy of Captain J. F. Siler, Medical Corps, United States Army, and with the approval of Dr. L. O. Howard, Chief of the Bureau of Entomology, the representatives of the Bureau were enabled to cooperate with the commission and to study the possible relation of insects to the causation of pellagra.

The work undertaken under these auspices consisted of a general study of such insects as appeared after a careful review of the situation to present possibilities in this connection. The species which seemed worthy of consideration were studied as to biology and habits, with special reference to the epidemiology of the disease and to the habits of those classes of the population in which appear the great mass of the cases of pellagra.