Daniel Carrion’s experiment: the use of self-infection in the advance of medicine

In 1885, Daniel Carrion (1857–1885), a young Peruvian medical student, was trying to establish the prodromal symptoms of ‘verruga disease’, an infectious disease rare outside South America but endemic in parts of Peru. As part of this investigation he was inoculated with fluid from a verruga lesion from a patient with the chronic form of the disease. He recorded the clinical features which developed, including fever, malaise, arthralgia, vomiting and anaemia, and it became apparent that he had developed the anaemic, febrile, acute phase of the illness (known as Oroya fever).