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Article
August 21, 1909

THE BACTERIOLYTIC ACTION OF BILE ON THE PNEUMOCOCCUS

JAMA. 1909;LIII(8):636. doi:10.1001/jama.1909.02550080040006
Abstract

Jaundice in pneumonia has generally been considered a very unfavorable prognostic sign indicative of an extreme grade of toxemia produced by the pneumococcus. If this explanation is true, the phenomenon first described by Neufeld1 in 1900 of the lytic action of bile on the pneumococcus stands in almost paradoxical contrast. If one drop of fresh rabbit's bile is added to 20 drops of a broth culture of pneumococci in a test tube, there is almost immediate clearing up of the cloudy fluid, due, as is observed in a hanging drop under the microscope, to complete lysis of the bacteria. Bile salts were later found to act in the same way. The reaction is specific, as no other organism is dissolved by bile, and it has been of considerable importance in differentiating streptococci from pneumococci. The so-called Streptococcus mucosus capsulatus, which in most respects behaves like a variety of pneumococcus,

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