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April 28, 1900


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(17):1045-1048. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.24610170025001g

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SMEGMA BACILLUS IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF TUBERCULOSIS AND SYPHILIS.  Repeated allusions have been made to the striking similarity which exists between the smegma bacillus and the bacillus of syphilis, of tuberculosis, and of lepra. It is obvious that errors in the diagnosis of these diseases, especially of tuberculosis, might lead to serious consequences, and it is further apparent that because of the close resemblance between these microscopic forms there exists a dangerous possibility of the occurrence of such mistakes whenever a diagnosis is to be based on the detection of the presence of the specific bacillus in physiologic or pathologic fluids and secretions. For these reasons it has been the aim of many experimenters to devise infallible differential stains for these organisms. Considering the comparative unimportance of a differentiation between smegma and lepra bacilli, no further attention will be devoted to that subject here, but the