Burkitt's lymphoma, the most common malignant disease of children in equatorial Africa, may also exist to a lesser extent in the United States.
A recent St. Louis study has shown that many of the clinical and histologic characteristics of childhood lymphosarcoma, a rare disease in the United States, are similar to those of Burkitt's lymphoma in Africa.
In 1961, Denis Burkitt, MD, and J.N.P. Davies, MD, Makere University College of Medicine, Kampala, Uganda, suggested that the African disease might represent the first instance of a malignant tumor induced by a vector-borne virus. This was suggested particularly by the geographical distribution of the disease which occurs in areas where mosquitoes and other arthropods are often virus carriers. Subsequently, virus particles were found in the sera of African patients with the tumor. The disease was originally designated simply as a sarcoma of the jaw, and later, as an unusual form of lymphoma.