William Osler

An Address on the Hæmatozoa of Malaria

Published by Good Press, 2021
EAN 4064066314781

Table of Contents


Professor of Clinical Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania.

Our knowledge of the animal parasites infesting the blood has been of late enriched by observations which show that certain of these hæmatozoa, as they are called, are more widely distributed and more important than we had hitherto supposed. Parasites belonging to the spirozoa, and to the nematode and trematode worms, have long been known to occur in the blood of various animals. Recent investigations prove that the flagellate protozoa are also not uncommon blood parasites, and it is possible that they may be the pathogenic organisms of certain diseases. I propose in this communication to give an account of the hæmatozoa which have been found in persons suffering with the various forms of malaria.

Historical.—Our knowledge of the blood-changes I am about to describe, dates from the researches of Laveran, in Algiers, which were communicated to the Paris Academy of Medicine in 1881 and 1882, and which were finally embodied in a large work on the malarial fevers, published in 1884.[2] He found, as characteristic elements in the blood of persons attacked with malaria, (1) crescentic pigmented bodies; (2) pigmented bodies in the interior of the red corpuscles, which underwent changes in form, described as amœboid; and (3) a pigmented flagellate organism. These forms were looked upon as phases in the development of an infusorial organism which he regarded as the germ of the disease. Richard [3] confirmed these observations. A more general interest in the question was aroused by the publications of Marchiafava and Celli,[4] who found in the blood of malarial patients at Rome the bodies described by Laveran. They figured carefully the alterations of the organism in the interior of the red corpuscles to which they gave the name Plasmodium malariæ. Councilman, of Baltimore, has more recently confirmed these observations.[5] The pigment granules so numerous in the interior of the red corpuscles in cases of "comatose pernicious fever," and which appear to be included in a hyaline mass are, according to Marchiafava and Celli, and Councilman (who had previously described them[6]) these amœboid parasites deeply laden with altered hæmoglobin.

Technical Details.—The finger pad from which the blood drop is taken should be thoroughly cleansed, and, if the examination is made during a paroxysm, the sweat which may exude after the friction and drying should be removed. Attention to these, apparently trivial, details will secure specimens of blood free from small particles of dirt, and facilitate considerably the search for pigmented bodies. The layer of blood beneath the top cover should be very thin and uniform, the corpuscles, as far as possible, isolated and not aggregated in clumps or in rouleaux. It is well to surround the cover with paraffin if the examination is prolonged. No reagent of any kind should be added. Cover-glass preparations may be made and stained in methyl blue or fuchsin, and mounted in balsam. Osmic acid preparations may also be employed. Although these bodies may be seen with a power of 500 to 600 diameters, it is essential for the satisfactory study of the changes to use higher powers. I have uniformly worked with the ??? homo. immersion of Zeiss, and the ?? im. of Reichert. Stricker's warm stage will be found useful.

Description of the bodies

1. The Forms which Exist within the Red Corpuscle.—(a) The most common alteration in the blood of malarial patients is presented by a pigmented structure inside the red corpuscle. The attention of the observer will most likely be first attracted by the presence of a few dark grains in the stroma, and a careful study of a suitable specimen will soon lead to the conviction that these are not scattered loosely, but are enclosed in a finely granular or hyaline body in the interior of the corpuscle (Fig. 1). The red discs in which

Fig. 1.- Amœboid body in red blood corpuscles. The sketches were made at intervals of five minutes.