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Notable Notes |

Dermatology for Poets and Bird-watchers

Leonard J. Hoenig, MD
Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(4):494. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.3599.
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The following questions test your knowledge of dermatology as it relates to literature, the Bible, history, and culture. The final question is for bird-watchers. Answers are provided below.


  1. The word pox appears in a number of William Shakespeare's plays. To what illness does it refer?

  2. Samson's hair was arranged into how many tresses (Judges 16:13)?

  3. In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, what gesture of peace involves washing (Part I: “The Peace-Pipe”)?

  4. Karl Herxheimer (1861-1942), a German-Jewish dermatologist, helped to describe the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction in syphilis therapy. In 1942, he was deported by the Nazis to a ghetto, where he perished. What was the ghetto's name?

  5. General George Washington's face was scarred by smallpox. What method was used to prevent this disease in his troops?

  6. Which king of Israel had a ruddy complexion (Samuel I 16:12)?

  7. In Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts, the character Oswald Alving suffers from congenital neurosyphilis. What French word does Ibsen use in the play for syphilis (Act 2)?

  8. In Shakespeare's play Henry IV (Part I, Act 3, Scene 3), Falstaff tells Bardolph: “Thou art our admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop, but ‘tis in the nose of thee.” What is the diagnosis of Bardolph's nose malady?

  9. In the original “Star Trek” television series episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” the character Bele has a striking dermatologic feature. What is it?

  10. What scar did Harry Potter have on his forehead?

  11. Names of birds such as “pigeon chest” and “seagull murmur” have become part of medical terminology. What bird term describes a facial feature that many people get (2 words)?

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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