Alberto Barton

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Alberto Barton Thompson
Barton alberto.jpg
Alberto Barton Thompson
Born (1870-08-12)August 12, 1870
Lima, Peru
Died October 25, 1950(1950-10-25) (aged 80)
Lima, Peru
Nationality Peru
Fields MedicineMicrobiology
Alma mater Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos
Known for Carrion's disease, Oroya fever, Bartonellosis, Bartonella bacilliformis

Alberto Barton, was a Peruvian microbiologist who discovered the etiologic agent of Carrion´s disease or Oroya fever. The bacteria was named: Bartonella bacilliformis, in his honor.

Youth and education[edit]

Alberto Leonardo Barton Thompson was the fourth of nine brothers. His father was a Uruguayan chemist, Ralph John Barton Wild born at Montevideo, Uruguay, 24 December 1834 of English ancestors, and his mother Anastasia Francisca Augusta del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús Thompson, born at Buenos Aires, 25 December 1843, both traveled to Peru in 1874.

Alberto Barton did his primary studies in "Nuestra Señora de la O de Lima" and the high school at "Convictorio Peruano en Lima." He was admitted to San Marcos University and graduated at the Medical School in 1900.

He received a grant for training in tropical diseases and bacteriology in the Tropical Medicine Institute of London and Edinburgh. He came back to Lima and was working as Chief Physician of medicine and laboratory section in Guadalupe Hospital. This was where he began his first research activities.


The discovery of Bartonella was made in 1905. There was an outbreak between foreign workers that traveled to La Oroya to participate in the construction of the Oroya-Lima railway. Most of the workers were transferred to Guadalupe Hospital and died victims of the rare disease characterized by fever and severe anemia.

Fourteen patients with anemia and fever were studied by Barton. He discovered bacillus on their red blood cells. If the patients recovered of the acute phase, the bacillus changed of shape to cocoids and if the patients developed warts, the bacteria disappeared from the peripheric blood.

On October 5, 1905, during a scientific meeting, he announced his discovery.

The first manuscript was published in 1909 in the journal Crónica Médica. In 1913, Richard Strong of Harvard University arrived in Peru to study the tropical diseases in South America. Strong confirmed Barton's discovery and named the bacteria Bartonia in honor of Barton; the bacterial species was subsequently named Bartonella bacilliformis.

Barton also studied Paragonimiasis, Leishmaniasis, and Brucellosis. He had a son named Hugo Andres Vizcarra Barton.


He was decorated with the "Orden del Sol de la Nación" in Peru for his research and was elected President of the National Academy of Medicine. Subsequently he was the first Doctor Honoris Causa of San Marcos University in 1925.

He died on October 25, 1950, at the age of 80.


Vizcarra Hugo. Alberto L Barton. BookXpress, 2001.

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