Thursday, December 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 9 [mystery diagnosis, part 2]

December 9, 1896

Lieut. P. C. Fauntleroy
Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Army,
Fort Niobrara, Neb.

Dear Doctor:

I have examined the two slides from the case of gonorrhoea referred to in your letter of December 2nd, and have been unable to discover either gonococcus [sic], or any other microorganism. I may say that this is the first time that I have ever examined urethral pus without finding some variety of bacteria present. There are, however, certain bodies with faintly stained protoplasm, and deeply stained round nuclei (with methylene blue), which do not appear to be any variety of leucocyte [sic] known to me. This body may contain from 1 to 5 deeply stained rounded masses. I am at quite a loss to say what these bodies are, unless they belong to some variety of animal parasite. I will, therefore ask you, if the patient is still under your care, to send me a half-dozen more cover slips made with urethral pus, and also a small quantity of his morning's urine. If you have any formaline I would suggest that you add about three drops of formaline to the urine so that it will not undergo decomposition in transit. I am curious to see whether I can find the same bodies in the sedimented urine.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

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