Filiation: A Historical Term the COVID-19 Outbreak Recalled in Turkey

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ERCIYES MEDICAL JOURNAL, vol.42, no.3, pp.354-358, 2020 (Journal Indexed in ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.14744/etd.2020.54782
  • Title of Journal : ERCIYES MEDICAL JOURNAL
  • Page Numbers: pp.354-358
  • Keywords: Contact tracing, epidemiology, history of medicine, medical terms, outbreak, pandemic, SARS


Originally derived from the Medieval Latin word, filiatio (from filius, son), filiation literally means paternity, descent-from-father, or line of descent. Concerning medicine, however, it refers to the connection of things resulting from one another, or contact tracing. The core idea behind filiation as a measure of precaution against outbreaks is to prevent the disease by interrupting the chain of transmission with a systematical tracing and isolation of susceptible individuals having contact with any confirmed cases. Filiation became a widely used medical term in the first quarter of the 19th century, primarily in French medical literature, soon adapted to English and some other languages. In the Ottoman Empire, it appeared in medical journals in the 1850s, used primarily by some European physicians practicing in the country. As part of various measures that have been taken to tackle the current pandemic of COVID-19, the method of filiation was also recalled by the medical community. Soon after the observance of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Turkey on March 11, 2020, the index case and its contacts were identified and the Turkish Ministry of Health launched the procedures of filiation at a national level with ad-hoc medical teams established around the country. Aiming to shed light on the etymological and historical aspects of filiation, the current review discusses the concept based on original resources.