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Much progress has been made in recent years in solving the problem of the cause of typhus fever. Perhaps the most important demonstration from a practical point of view is the discovery by Nicolle, Ricketts and others that the disease is transmitted by the body louse. The demonstration also that apes, monkeys and guineapigs are susceptible to the typhus virus makes it possible to conduct systematic experiments on animals, and in the course of such experiments it has been shown quite conclusively that the disease is not caused by a filterable virus as we ordinarily understand it. And so the search for a bacterial cause has continued.
In 1914, Plotz described a gram-positive anaerobic bacillus obtained in culture of the blood from patients with endemic typhus in New York and of typhus fever in immigrants in quarantine. The medium consisted of glucose agar and unheated, unfiltered ascitic fluid with a
THE CAUSE OF TYPHUS FEVER. JAMA. 1916;LXVI(23):1782-1783. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580490030015