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January 24, 1914


JAMA. 1914;LXII(4):300. doi:10.1001/jama.1914.02560290050023

The discovery of ultramicroscopic agents of infection in the form of so-called filterable viruses came at a period in the study of certain diseases when the hope of finding a responsible micro-organism, to the existence of which all the evidence strongly pointed, began to approach the stage of despair. The long story of unsuccessful attempts to isolate and cultivate an organism responsible for yellow fever, and the more recent experiences with the causative agent in anterior poliomyelitis which is now known to pass through filters that were at one time relied on to obstruct entirely the passage of pathogenic organisms, are fresh in the minds of those who have followed the progress of the study of infectious diseases. Without committing us to any etiologic theory of cancer, the preceding fragments of the history of medical science must be kept in mind whenever we are informed that micro-organisms can have no