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The form of the bacillus tuberculosis is not characteristic, and it cannot, therefore, be differentiated from other pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria by its form alone. It is a very thin bacillus, about 2 to 5 micromillimetres in length (from one-quarter to one-half the diameter of a red blood-corpuscle). It is usually slightly bent.
Like all protoplasmic cells it has an affinity for the aniline colors, and its reaction to these colors is characteristic when the aniline is combined with a mordant.
To elicit the characteristic reaction of the bacillus to the aniline colors it is necessary to proceed in a methodical manner. The instruments used, forceps, needles, etc., should be clean, sterilzed by heating in a gas or other flame. The cover-glasses and slides should be cleansed in fine alcohol.
The material supposed to contain the bacilli should be collected in a clean vessel, and when collected should be protected
BILLINGS F. THE DETECTION OF THE BACILLUS TUBERCULOSIS, TECHNIQUE. Read before the Chicago Medical Society February, 18, 1889. JAMA. 1889;XII(13):443–444. doi:10.1001/jama.1889.02400900011001b
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