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Box for von Pirquet's tuberculin test, London, England, 1910-1914

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Clemens von Pirquet (1874-1929), an Austrian paediatrician, devised this test in 1907 to see whether a person has been exposed to the bacteria causing tuberculosis. Two drops of liquid tuberculin were placed on the skin of the forearm approximately 100 mm apart, scratched and covered with cotton wool. If a red hard raised area appeared on the skin within 24 hours of the test, it showed they had the disease, were naturally immune or had acquired immunity in some way. The introduction of this test was a landmark in the diagnosis and prevention of tuberculosis. It is shown here with Calmette's tuberculin test (1981-1681/2).

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Glossary: immunity

The condition of being immune, the protection against infectious disease conferred either by the immune response generated by immunisation or previous infection or by other nonimmunologic factors.

Glossary: tuberculin test

No description.

Glossary: ampoule

A sealed glass or plastic capsule containing one dose of a drug in the form of a sterile solution for injection.

Glossary: tuberculin

A protein extracted from the tuberculosis causing bacterium. It is used in tests to determine if a person has been exposed to the bacteria and is in danger of coming down with the disease.

Glossary: tuberculosis

An infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium first identified by Robert Koch in 1882. The disease usually affects the lungs first, and is accompanied by a chronic cough.