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April 29, 1905


Author Affiliations

ANN ABBOR, MICH.; From the Hygienic Laboratory, University of Michigan.

JAMA. 1905;XLIV(17):1340-1346. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.92500440001001b

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It is now generally conceded that the pathogenic bacteria bring about those changes in the body cells which form the basis of what we call disease by virtue of certain poisons which they produce. These poisons are supposed to be specific for each kind of bacteria and to them the name of toxin has been given. Certain bacteria possess a toxin which is not an integral part of the cell itself, and hence is not essential to its existence. As examples of such organisms may be mentioned the bacillus of tetanus and that of diphtheria.

With these bacteria the toxin is found free in the culture medium and there are differences in opinion concerning its origin, some regarding it as a cleavage product formed by the action of the bacillus either directly or through a chemical ferment on the constituents of the culture medium, while others think that the soluble toxin represents a group of the bacterial cell which easily drops off. On the other hand, the filtrates of cultures from such bacteria as the typhoid and the colon bacillus are non-toxic, or, at the most, possessed of but feeble toxicity.

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