In the case of the tetanus and diphtheria bacilli, the production of soluble toxins can be readily demonstrated by filtering a culture in bouillon germ-free by means of a porcelain filter, and then injecting some of the filtrate into an animal.
They found that the germ of tetanus had been introduced into the fluid before the bottle was opened at Malkowal, and they thought it probable that this might have occurred owing either to insufficient sterilization or to the process of filling the bottle from a larger flask having been performed with defective precautions.
A later research by Brieger along with Fraenkel pointed to the extracellular toxins of diphtheria, tetanus and other diseases being of proteid nature, and various other observers have arrived at a like conclusion.
The evidence showed that it had been much too readily believed that the tetanus germs had entered the fluid before the bottle was opened, and that a grave injustice had been done to Mr Haffkine.
In strychnine poisoning trismus or lockjaw is generally secondary to spasm of the other muscles, while in tetanus it is usually the first symptom, no relaxation taking place between the spasms.
Of such are tetanus and diphtheria, now known to be due to the establishment from without of a local microbic infection, from which focus a toxin is diffused to the nervous matter.
Thus in cholera the bacteria are practically confined to the intestine, in diphtheria to the region of the false membrane, in tetanus to some wound.
They also expressed the opinion that carbolic acid was a valuable agent in restraining tetanus growth when added to plague prophylactic, ' and they, therefore, thought that its omission was a grave mistake.
The uses of chloroform which fall to be mentioned here are: - as a counter-irritant; as a local anaesthetic for toothache due to caries, it being applied on a cotton wool plug which is inserted into the carious cavity; as an antispasmodic in tetanus and hydrophobia; and as the best and most immediate and effective antidote in cases of strychnine poisoning.
Natural immunity against toxins must be taken into account, and, if Ehrlich's view with regard to toxic action be correct, this may depend upon either the absence of chemical affinity of the living molecules of the tissues for the toxic molecule, or upon insensitiveness to the action of the toxophorous group. It has been shown with regard to the former, for example, that the nervous system of the fowl, which possesses immunity against tetanus toxin, has little combining affinity for it.