Classification

Ergotism has two forms: (1) convulsive, or spasmodic, also known as creeping, which affects the central nervous system; and (2) gangrenous, which affects the blood vessels and blood supply to the extremities. Common names for the gangrenous form are St. Anthony's fire (after the patron saint of the disease), hidden fire, saint's fire, evil fire, devil's fire, and holy fire. As a result of early imprecision in disease specificity and diagnosis, physicians confused ergotism with the plague and a variety of other diseases including leprosy, anthrax, typhus, smallpox, and scurvy.

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