Letter to the Editor Comment on “Ramsay Hunt Syndrome”

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To the Editor: In an otherwise interesting paper by Kim et al. on the antiviral treatment of herpes zoster oticus, which appeared in the June 2017 issue, the eponym “Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome” is repeatedly misspelled as the “Ramsay hunt syndrome (1).” The syndrome is named after James Ramsay Hunt (1874–1937) an eminent neurologist of the first half of the 20th century who was a professor at Columbia University (2,3). As a proper name, “Hunt” should certainly have been capitalized. Misspellings of this syndrome abound in the literature. A PUBMED search reveals 22 papers erroneously referring to the “Ramsey” Hunt Syndrome. Sometimes the name is hyphenated as Ramsay-Hunt, but the record is clear that his last name was Hunt and his middle name Ramsay. In correspondence, he was addressed by a friend as “My Dear Ramsay,” evidence that he simply preferred his middle name (2).
I am not personally a fan of eponyms. They convey no information about the disease entity, are taxing for students to memorize, and are sometimes habitually misspelled. I recommend that we instead use the descriptive term “herpes zoster oticus” and give credit to Ramsay Hunt who first described “herpetic inflammations of the geniculate ganglion” in his 1907 paper (4).

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