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November 1920


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine. Read at a meeting of the St. Louis Pediatric Society, May 21, 1920.

Am J Dis Child. 1920;20(5):445-460. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1920.01910290107006

It is interesting to note how widely divergent have been the experiences of clinicians concerning the usefulness of direct smears in diphtheria, and singularly so to compare the statements in textbooks on bacteriology and pathology to those appearing in books on pediatrics and medicine, for although the former are in accord that a smear suitably secured and stained will, in a large portion of cases, perhaps in half or more, furnish good evidence of the presence of diphtheria, such a belief, although to be found, does not commonly appear among methods deemed suitable for the physician.

The inherent difficulty, it seems, lies in the fact that grown on living tissues, the diphtheria bacillus appears in a great variety of forms, and that these take stains indifferently well and are, therefore, not so readily distinguishable as when obtained in culture. Everyone who has attempted to find them knows that this is

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