To the Editor.
—Mackowiak et al,1 taking the temperature of 122 men and 26 women preparatory to Shigella vaccine trials, took the opportunity to establish normal levels for human temperature throughout the day. One to four observations per day for 2.5 days were made and compared with those of Wunderlich.Wunderlich analyzed over 1 million axillary temperatures from over 25 000 patients using a thermometer that took 15 minutes to equilibrate. He had concluded that the mean temperature of the human is 37°C (98.6°F). The study by Mackowiak et al reexamines this dictum and wonderfully finds a mean of 36.8°C (98.2°F), a difference of questionable significance.Unfortunately, their conclusion says "37°C (98.6°F) should be abandoned...." Anders Celsius, a Swedish astronomer, invented the scale, which has 100° between the freezing and boiling points of water. In most countries the "C" stands for Celsius rather than centigrade. The French divide their
Walworth DH. 98.6°F. JAMA. 1993;269(10):1251-1252. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500100047018