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July 7, 1945


JAMA. 1945;128(10):706-710. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860270008003

The chemotherapeutic effects of penicillin in certain spirochetal infections have been successfully demonstrated in human subjects and in experimental animals.

Mahoney1 was the first to demonstrate the spirocheticidal effect of penicillin. In a careful and well planned study, he observed the disappearance of Treponema pallidum from scrapings of chancres after fourteen hours of treatment using 25,000 units intramuscularly at four hour intervals. Furthermore, the duration of the primary ulcerations was only eight days. We confirmed these observations by using penicillin in doses of 25,000 units every three hours on 2 patients with primary chancres. The dark field examinations were positive through the eighth hour following the institution of treatment, but specimens obtained at twelve hours did not contain Treponema pallidum. O'Leary and Herrell2 observed a rapid disappearance of the late cutaneous manifestations of syphilis, following continuous intravenous drip of 20,000 units of penicillin twice daily.

Penicillin is highly