153 Powell Place
July 30, 1924
I am very sorry indeed that you misunderstood me from my short note & I hope you will forgive me. I have been rushed so that I don’t hardly know straight up. The clinic opened when I arrived & we have had more than 250 patients, 150 of which were afflicted with what we call “larval migrans.”*
The thing is not what we expected to find, a result of something imported from the tropics but is entirely new – can’t find anything in literature on it and we are working for the origin as well as the treatment. Technically speaking it does not come under our Bureau but I want to work it out with Dr. Kirby-Smith if possible. Previous to this the treatments consisted of cutting out skin sections with the knife or injecting something under the skin to kill the parasite. We are now using a fumigant which penetrates the skin & apparently kills the parasite without having any ill effects. Some are treated for a year for extreme infestations, and I believe we have the thing that will get them in one or two treatments with no ill effects.
Dearie, you will probably think that I am crazy to go into details of my work in writing to you, but my whole energy is in it and we mean to work it out.
Will probably spend next week at homes where it originated in the city and the following week will be on the beach for a comparative study as to the source of infection etc.
Dr. Kirby-Smith has treated me royally since I’ve been here and he spends lots of time with me from his valuable practice. He is a specialist in skin diseases, and considered the best south of Washington.
Please don’t think hard of me Dearie for writing such a short note to you. I was at the clinic then & wanted to let you know that I arrived OK.
Trust I’ll hear from you soon and a long letter.
Professional Bld of Dr. Kirby-Smith
* Yes, in 2011 you can Google “larva(l) migrans” and instantly learn what causes it. In 1924, though, it was a complete mystery. You are reading the personal letters of the fellow who figured it out, and for the next few weeks this blog will feature his efforts to explain that work to his girlfriend as he’s doing it. Go ahead and look it up, but be sure to come back to this story to see what it really took to get that answer.