Dove's fellow presenter at this year's CPC is Paul G. Auwaerter, M.D., M.B.A., associate professor and clinical director in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Auwaerter has taken on the challenge of unraveling the mystery of Bolivar's death.
When Bolivar died on December 17, 1830, it was believed he was succumbed to consumption or tuberculosis, a common condition of the day. He had suffered a long illness with a variety of symptoms frequent bouts of loss of consciousness, skin darkening, extreme weight loss, coughing, exhaustion and persistent headaches.
Dr. Auwaerter, in his careful review of Bolivar's case, has concluded the general's killer was likely not tuberculosis. Rather, Dr. Auwaerter sees evidence of a more sinister cause of death chronic arsenic poisoning that led to a serious respiratory illness. Considering the many attempts on Bolivar's life throughout his career as a revolutionary, Dr. Auwaerter says he has considered the possibility that the death was an assassination. But most of the signs and symptoms point to slow, chronic poisoning, the kind that might result from drinking contaminated water. Such environmental contact with arsenic would have been entirely possible, Dr. Auwaerter says.
"Bolivar spent a lot of time in Peru, and there have been Colombian mummies found there that have tested positive for high levels of arsenic," he explains. "That indicates the possibility that the water in Peru may have had unusually high levels of the naturally occurring poison."
But that's not all, he adds: "Bolivar was known to ingest arsenic as a remedy for some of his ongoing illnesses recurring headaches, wasting, hemorrhoids and his chronic episodes of unconsciou
|Contact: Karen Buckelew|
University of Maryland Medical Center