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Article
February 22, 1913

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS OF THE WASSERMANN TEST

Author Affiliations

Captain, Medical Corps, U. S. Army WASHINGTON, D. C.

From the Bacteriologic Laboratories of the Army Medical School

JAMA. 1913;60(8):565-569. doi:10.1001/jama.1913.04340080001001
Abstract

The complement-fixation reaction for the diagnosis of syphilis, discovered by Wassermann, Neisser and Bruck, and coincidently by Detre, is, aside from the demonstration of Spirochaeta pallida, now generally accepted as the most valuable aid we have in the diagnosis of the disease and in the control of treatment. I have been impressed, however, with the evident misconceptions of many practitioners regarding the nature of the reaction, the percentage of positive results that may be expected in the various stages of syphilis and the exact significance of a positive or negative result. Many patients have been told on the strength of a single negative reaction that they were free from syphilis, while the diagnosis of syphilis has repeatedly been made on the presence of a plus-minus or plus reaction in the absence of a history of infection and of any symptom of the disease.

Such interpretations of the reaction are entirely unwarranted

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