Salvador Mazza was an eminent Argentinean epidemiologist and physician. He was widely recognized for his works on ‘American trypanosomiasis’ disease that was prevalent in rural Argentina in early part of twentieth century. Armed with specialization in pathology and microbiology, Dr. Salvador Mazza devoted all his life for the prevention and awareness of trypanosomiasis disease in South America. He went to Europe in the 1920’s where he collaborated with Nobel Laureate Charles Nicolle for research work on the endemic disease. In the 1930’s, he became the head of the MEPRA or Mision de Estudios de Patologia Regional Argentina. He published over 482 write-ups in the scientific journal maintained by MEPRA. His MEPRA laboratory carried out many research works on trypanosomiasis disease and made occasional tours to rural Argentina to spread awareness of the disease among the rural masses. Unfortunately, in 1946, Dr. Salvador is believed to have died of same disease that he strived to eradicate in Argentina.
Childhood And Early Life
Salvador Mazza was born on 6th June 1886 in Rauch, Argentina. His parents, Francesco Mazza and Giuseppa Alfise, were immigrants from Sicily, Italy. He was educated at the prestigious Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires. After graduation, he sought enrollment at Argentine Naval Academy but was declined on medical grounds so, he pursued medicine at the University Of Buenos Aires School Of Medicine. He held the post of health inspector in the rural district of Buenos Aires while pursuing his graduate studies. As a health inspector, he paid utmost attention to vaccination and prevention of diseases in the rural town. He graduated in medicine in 1903, specializing in pathology and microbiology.
Salvador Mazza served as a bacteriologist in the National Department of Hygiene, rechristened Ministry of Health from 1910. In 1916, around the time of World War I, Salvador Mazza was sent to Europe by Argentine army to investigate a contagious disease that had struck the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires. During his stint in Europe, Mazza got acquainted with Carlos Chagas, renowned Brazilian epidemiologist who discovered American trypanosomiasis in 1909. In 1923, Salvador Mazza received an invitation from well-known bacteriologist Charles Nicolle to Pasteur Institute's Algiers, France to study methods for treating typhus disease. After his return to his home country in 1925, Mazza held the post of Director at Clinical Hospital and Dean of the Bacteriology department at the UBA. In this capacity, Mazza invited Charles Nicolle to Buenos Aires to conduct further research on the contagious Chagas disease.
In his capacity as the head of the Regional Pathologies Study founded in 1926, Salvador made immense contribution in Jujuy province of northern Argentina. MEPRA laboratory carried important research work on leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis diseases. It published materials and reports at regular intervals and toured the countryside to educate the masses on deadly infectious diseases. MEPRA undertook initiatives to control the beetle disease known as ‘triatoma infestans’ or ‘vinchuca’. Salvador vigorously campaigned for burning the thatched roofs in rural areas as this was found to be breeding ground for the vinchucas. By 1944, MEPRA had published over 551 write-ups and reports, including 482 articles by Dr. Mazza. In 1926-27, Dr. Salvador Mazza also founded Scientific Societies in seven Northern provinces in Argentina to carry research work on prevalent diseases. Dr. Salvador Mazza also collaborated with an English Argentine epidemiologist, Dr. Guillermo Paterson, who was known for his work on malaria. Dr. Mazza’s works on trypanosomiasis became the topic of discussion at the prestigious VI National Congress of Medicine by South American medical community, held in 1939. In 1942, Dr. Salvador called on Dr. Alexander Fleming, a Scottish scientist, for the production of penicillin in Argentina despite lack of support from the government.
Salvador Mazza married Clorinda Brígida Razori in 1914 and the couple enjoyed a happy and long marital life. The life story of Dr. Mazza was depicted in the Argentine cinema by the name “Houses of Fire” directed by by Juan Bautista Stagnaro in1995.
Salvador Mazza breathed his last on 9 November, 1946 in Mexico. According to reports, Dr. Salvador succumbed to the trypanosomiasis disease which he had tried to eradicate all his life. He suffered a chronic cardiac Sincope while he was attending the First International Brucellosis Congress, in Monterrey, Mexico. He died at the age of 60.