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January 5, 1963

Mycobacterium Leprae

Author Affiliations

Palawan, Philippines

JAMA. 1963;183(1):74. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700010114025

To the Editor:  —The editorial entitled "The Gouty Parasitologist" (JAMA181:44 [July 7] 1962) contains an error of some significance regarding the discovery of the leprosy bacillus. It is said there: "In 1879, Manson tread on the periphery of another significant observation, without appreciating its significance," when he observed, in material obtained from lymph nodes, rodlike bodies that were probably the causative bacilli. "They were described and identified the same year by Hansen."In actuality, it was in 1874 that Hansen1 reported the observation of the leprosy bacillus, nearly a decade before Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus. Previously, in 1869,2 Hansen had described the occurrence of yellowish granular masses occurring in lymph nodes and other organs of leprosy patients, objects which his chief (and father-inlaw) Danielssen had seen previously and had shown to Virchow as early as 1859. These granules were, in fact, composed of the bacilli