Background/Aims: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first malaria fever treatment (MFT) given to patients with general paralysis of the insane (GPI) by the Austrian psychiatrist and later Nobel laureate, Julius Wagner-Jauregg. In 1921 Wagner-Jauregg reported an impressive therapeutic success of MFT and it became the standard treatment for GPI worldwide. In this study, MFT practice in the Dutch Vincent van Gogh psychiatric hospital in GPI patients who had been admitted in the period 1924-1954 is explored. Methods: To identify patients with GPI, cause-of-death statistics was used. Data on MFT were retrieved from annual hospital reports and individual patient records. Results: Data on MFT were mentioned in the records of 43 out of 105 GPI patients. MFT was practiced in a wide range of patients with GPI, including those with disease duration of more than 1 year, up to 70 years of age, and those with a broad array of symptoms and comorbidities, such as (syphilitic) cardiac disease. Inoculation with malaria was done by patient-to-patient transmission of infected blood. Conclusions: MFT practice and mortality rates in MFT-treated patients correspond to similar findings worldwide. MFT was well tolerated and MFT-treated patients had a significantly longer survival.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Dementia, General paralysis of the insane, History of neurology, Malaria fever therapy, Neuropsychiatry, Neurosyphilis
Persistent URL,
Journal European Neurology
Daey Ouwens, I.M, Lens, C.E. (C. Elisabeth), Fiolet, A.T.L, Ott, A. (Alewijn), Koehler, P.J. (Peter J.), Kager, P.A, & Verhoeven, W.M.A. (2017). Malaria Fever Therapy for General Paralysis of the Insane: A Historical Cohort Study. European Neurology, 56–62. doi:10.1159/000477900