In the early 1850s Griesinger went to Egypt to head the medical school and the health commission in Cairo, and became the personal physician to Egyptian viceroy Abbas 1. In Egypt, Griesinger and German physician Theodor Bilharz found hookworms during autopsies and linked them to local endemic occurrences of “Egyptian chlorosis” (iron deficiency anemia), which was reportedly responsible for a quarter of all deaths in the region. In consequence, Griesinger is recognized eponymously with “Griesinger’s disease” – ancylostomiasis (hookworm disease).
Human hookworm infections are caused by two species, Ancylostoma duodenaleand Necator americanus, the former originating in Asia and the latter originating in Africa. The life cycles of the two worms are similar. Adult male and female worms live in the small intestine, where they can cause massive blood loss. Eggs pass out with the feces to contaminate the soil, where larvae emerge and molt to become infectious larvae that bore through the skin of a new host.
- Griesinger, W. 1854. Klinische und anatomische Beobachtungen über die Krankheiten von Egypten. Arch. Physiol. Heilkd. 13:528-575.
- Kean, B. H., K. E. Mott, and A. J. Russell (ed.). 1978. Tropical medicine and parasitology: classic investigations. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.
- Aminoff M, Daroff R (2014). Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences.