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April 1938


Author Affiliations

Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Corps, United States Army; First Lieutenant, Medical Corps Reserve, United States Army WASHINGTON, D. C.

From the Medical Service of the Walter Reed General Hospital.

Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1938;61(4):646-654. doi:10.1001/archinte.1938.00180090126009

The recognition of meningococcic septicemia is an achievement of the twentieth century. Although the causative organism of meningitis was recognized and described by Weichselbaum in 1887, it was not until Gwyn's1 report in 1899 that the meningococcus was demonstrated in the blood. Since the beginning of this century the American literature has contained many reports of extrameningeal types of meningococcic infection, but there have been relatively few reports of prolonged meningococcemia.

In the early part of this century it was believed by many that meningococcic septicemia if it occurs at all only follows an attack of meningitis and that the eruption so frequently seen in cases of meningitis is caused by a circulating toxin. Experience during and since the World War has led to acceptance of the belief so ably set forth by W. W. Herrick2 in 1919. He divided meningococcic sepsis into three stages: The first stage