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Arvid Afzelius

Born  1857
Died  1923

Related eponyms

Swedish dermatologist, 1857-1923.

Biography of Arvid Afzelius

Arvid Afzelius Afzelius grew up on the countryside in Uppland and went to school in Enköping and Uppsala. He had prominent teachers, and one of his classmates was the physicist and chemist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927), today remembered for Arrhenius's theory, which is the theory of the ionisation of electrolytes.

As a student at the Karolinska institutet, Afzelius kept notes of the histology lectures of Magnus Gustav Retzius (1842-1919), the famous anatomist and anthropologist who is eponymously remembered for Retzius's lines, which are the brownish, incremental lines seen in microscopic sections of tooth enamel. During his student years he spent time studying under the great dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna in Hamburg, and under the even more prominent dermatologist Moritz Kaposi (1837-1902) in Vienna. Kaposi has now become a household name because "his" sarcoma is a common lesion in the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Afzelius graduated from Karolinska institutet in 1882 and in 1887 obtained his licentiateship. At that time the Karolinska institutet did not have the right to confer the title og doctor. He then settled in practice, becoming a highly recognised and trusted society physician. During the summers of 1887 to 1904 he worked Hjo cold water spa, then three summers at the Södertälje hydro.

If you search for Arvid Afzelius on the Internet, you will learn a lot about Lyme disease. The first record of a condition associated with Lyme disease dates back to 1883 in Breslau, Germany, where a physician named Alfred Buchwald (1845–) described a degenerative skin disorder now known as acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans. In a 1909 meeting of the Swedish Society of Dermatology, Arvid Afzelius presented research about an expanding, ring like lesion he had observed. Afzelius published his work 12 years later and speculated that the rash came from the bite of an Ixodes tick. This rash is the early stage of Lyme disease.


  • Verhandlungen der dermatologischen Gesellschaft zu Stockholm.
    Archiv für Dermatologie und Syphilis, Berlin, 1910, 101: 104.
  • Erythema chronicum migrans.
    Acta dermato-venerologica, Stockholm, 1921, 2: 120-125.

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