Bontius was probably the first to regard tropical medicine as an independent branch of medical science. He spent the last four years of his life in the Dutch East Indies, and his book incorporates the experience he gained there. It is the first Dutch work on tropical medicine and includes the first modern description of beri-beri and cholera. On pp. 115-120 of the first edition Bontius provided the first modern description of Beri-beri, the deficiency disease endemic to Eastern and Southern Asia (sporadic elsewhere). This diseases results from a thiamine deficiency caused by too great a dependence on polished rice in the diet. (See No. 3740). It was mentioned in Chinese literature before the Christian era. Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link. Translated into English anonymously as An account of the diseases, natural history and medicines of the East Indies to which are added annotations by a physician (London, 1769). Digital facsimile of the English translation from Google Books at this link.