The specificity of the so-called Wassermann reaction together with its clinical interpretation have been matters of comment and criticism since the introduction of the test. Granting that in all cases in which work has been reported, the technic and the component parts of the manipulations have been beyond question, it has been frequently noted that cases of undoubted syphilis, clinically, have failed to give positive reaction. Conversely, the literature already contains rather frequent mention of failure of hemolysis in instances in which leutic history has been eliminated and in which individuals have been ill from various other ailments.
Landsteiner1 found that when rabbits had been inoculated with Trypanosoma equiperdum their serum caused inhibition of hemolysis. Weil and Braun2 noted positive indications from the test in cases of pneumonia, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diabetes and certain tumors variously distributed throughout the body. Munch and Eichelberg3 have called attention to
CUMMING JG, SMITHIES F. DEVIATION OF COMPLEMENT WITH FAILURE OF COMPLETE HEMOLYSIS (WASSERMANN REACTION) IN CERTAIN, NON-SYPHILITIC, HUMAN SERA: A PRELIMINARY COMMUNICATION. JAMA. 1909;LII(17):1330–1331. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.25420430026003c
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