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Sept 7, 1963

False-Positive Serology in Mononucleosis

Author Affiliations


Chief, Department of Medicine, US Army Tripler General Hospital.

JAMA. 1963;185(10):783-785. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060100063025

MISCONCEPTIONS of infectious mononucleosis have arisen from uncritical repetitions of statements by earlier writers. The dictum of the frequent occurrence in mononucleosis of biological false-positive serologic reactions for syphilis (hereafter referred to as BFP) has been long accepted and unquestioned. For example, Harvey, in a recently published article,1 stated that infectious mononucleosis was among the diseases which provoke a "high incidence" of BFP. The wide range of reported incidence is remarkable—one report stated that BFP's have been reported as occurring in "from 2 to more than 60 per cent of cases."2 Recent articles have reported an incidence of 20%.3,4

After observing many patients with mononucleosis without finding an instance of BFP, I undertook to ascertain its frequency in a series of 300 consecutive personally examined patients. Except for exclusion of outpatients, cases were unselected. This paper is a report of my results and conclusions.

Method  The incidence