Mycotoxicoses are acute or chronic diseases of humans and animals caused by mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by moulds. Of about 400 known mycotoxins only a small number are known to cause mycotoxicoses in humans. Organs that are most targeted are those in which mycotoxins are metabolised, that is, the liver and kidneys, but the lesions may affect the neurological, respiratory, digestive, haematological, endocrine, and immune systems as well.
The epidemics of mycotoxicoses are often connected with times of famine, when population consumes food that would not be consumed in normal circumstances. Mycotoxicoses have influenced human history, causing demographic changes, migrations, or even influencing the outcomes of wars. Fortunately, epidemics affecting so many persons and with so many fatalities belong to the past. Today they only appear in small communities such as schools and factory canteens. This paper presents epidemics and pandemics of mycotoxicoses that influenced human history.
2. Vergilius PM. Georgike. Velika Gorica: Papir; 1994.
3. Ovidius. Opera omnia. III Fasti, Tristia, Epistolae ex ponto. Leipzig: Nova Editio Sterotypa; 1845.
4. Van Dongen PWJ, de Groot ANJA. History of ergot alkaloids from ergotism to ergometrine. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1995;60:109-16.
5. Marr JS, Malloy CD. An epidemiologic analysis of the ten plagues of Egypt. Caduceus 1996;12:7-24.
6. Stanley DJ, Sheng H. Volcanic shards from Santorini (Upper Minoan ash) in the Nile Delta, Egypt. Nature 1986;320:733-5.
7. Trevisanato SI. Ancient Egyptian doctors and the nature of the biblical plagues. Med Hypotheses 2005;65:811-3.
8. Barger G. Ergot and ergotism. London, Gurney and Jackson 1931. p. 20-84.
9. Biggs RD. Ergotism and other mycotoxicoses in ancient Mesopotamia? Aula Orientalis 1991; 9:15-21.
10. Neuburger M. Handbuch der Geschichte der Medizin. Zweiter band. Jena: Verlag von Gustav Fischer; 1903.
11. Annales Xantenses et Annales Vedastini. Hannoverae: Typis Culemannorum; 1909.
12. Gorys E. Lexikon der Heiligen. Muenchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH; 2004.
13. Caporael LR. Ergotism: The Satan loosed in Salem? Science 1976;192:21-6.
14. Gajdušek DC. Acute Infectious Hemorrhagic Fevers and Mycotoxicoses in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Washington: Walter Reed Army Medical Center; 1953.
15. Joffe AZ. Fusarium poae and F. sporotrichoides as principal causal agents of alimentary toxic aleukia. In: Wyllie T, Morehouse LG, editors. Mycotoxic fungi, mycotoxins, mycotoxicoses. Vol. 3. Mycotoxicoses of man and plants: mycotoxin control and regulatory practices. New York: Marcel Decker, Inc.; 1978. p. 21-86.
16. Tainsh RA. Hunger in India: the human factor. Int Relations 1981;7:1053-62.
17. Brett-Crowther MR. The waste and spoilage of food. Int Relations 1977;5:162-79.
18. Meggs WJ. Epidemics of mold poisoning past and present. Toxicol Ind Health 2009;25:571-6.
19. Matossian MK. Mold poisoning: an unrecognized English health problem, 1550-1800. Med Hist 1981;25:73-84.
20. Appleby AB. Nutritional disease: the case of London 1550-1750. J Interdiscip Hist 1975;6:1-22.