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December 4, 1915


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Illinois.

JAMA. 1915;LXV(23):1980-1983. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02580230022007

Any estimation of the prevalence of syphilis in a community by means of clinical symptoms alone is hazardous. The protean manifestations of the disease, the latent type of both congenital and acquired forms, and the denial of a specific history, either through ignorance or wilfully, render its diagnosis extremely difficult in many instances. In recent years, however, the introduction of the Wassermann reaction has aided, in a marked degree, the proper classification of many heretofore obscure conditions.

To be of greatest value in the diagnosis of a disease, the specific test for that disease, whether for laboratory or clinical purposes, must be practically constant. The thousands of Wassermann tests made on patients suffering from syphilis give ample proof that the test is practically constant for this condition. Various estimates give from 60 to 100 per cent, positive reactions in different stages of the disease. Less than 0.5 per cent, of