Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01193
Fort Yates, N.D.
January 13, 1896.
Dear Doctor Reed:
Although I know how very busy you must be I have been so much puzzled that I am going to take the liberty of appealing to you for help in my difficulty. I have not been able to stain the diphtheria bacillus satisfactorily with Loeffler’s Methyllene [sic] Blue solution since my return from Washington and cannot imagine what is wrong. Dr. Swift even sent to Merck some of the dye thinking perhaps there was something wrong with the material we had on hand. I have made the solution from one to three percent in 1-10000 solution of caustic potash over and over and tried it from time to time on fresh blood serum cultures of the bacilli, sometimes staining for ten minutes, sometimes heating the solution. It always gives the same very faint stain so that I cannot use it for diagnosis. It is so much different from the beautiful mounts that I made under your direction and which are still deeply and properly stained as a standard of what ought to be.
Again I know you kept on hand as stock solution a saturated alcoholic solution using 30cc of that to 100cc solution of caustic potash. Now the dispensatory gives the solubility of methyllene blue as only 1.50 % in alcohol and that is all I can make it dissolve so of course cannot make a watery solution strong enough from that. I am satisfied there must be something wrong somewhere with my method and that a few lines of advice from you can straighten it out. I have given up using methyllene blue in despair and by using gentian violet very rapidly am able to detect the bacillus though the stain is not as satisfactory as Loeffler’s Solution ought to be.
I make cultures from every throat that presents any opportunity and have made a great many examinations this winter. It is so much satisfaction to be able to do this work and I appreciate more every day that advantages I had under your kind instruction last winter. Have found the germs in three throats this winter, - on in the throat of a child of crylian [?] parents post mortem, attended by a civilian for tonsillitis. I was called in after the sudden death of the child to verify the diagnosis and to allay any scare about diphtheria. Fortunately a public funeral was prevented.
Yesterday afternoon I used my first injection of antitoxin upon a soldier, after six hours inoculation from his throat upon blood serum. No visible colonies had grown but by swabbing [sic] the loop over the surface of the serum many bacilli were collected.
Thanking you in advance, I am
Very Sincerely yours,
Henry C. Fisher