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Article
March 7, 1896

A WORD ON THE MODERN USE OF THE TERMS INFECTION AND CONTAGION.

Author Affiliations

CHIEF SURGEON C. S. & H., CONSULTING SURGEON, B. & O., AND SURGEON T. O. & C. RAILWAYS. COLUMBUS, O.

JAMA. 1896;XXVI(10):458-461. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430620010002b

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Abstract

With the advance of the germ theory and its practical application to disease, no small amount of confusion has arisen in our text-books in the use of the word infection.

Dunglison's dictionary, published in 1860, defines the word infection as synonymous with contagion and defines contagion as being the transmission of a disease from one person to another by direct or indirect contact. It also states that the term has been applied by some to the action of miasmata arising from dead animal or vegetable matter, bogs, fens, etc. It says that contagious diseases are produced either by a virus capable of causing them by inoculation, as smallpox, cowpox, hydrophobia or syphilis, or by miasmata proceeding from a sick individual, as in plague, typhus gravior, measles, scarlatina, scrofula, phthisis pulmonalis, or cancer.

By these definitions, you will readily see that the same term is applied to widely different conditions and

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