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Tuberculin syringe, England, 1901-1910

Tuberculin is injected into the skin to see whether a person has been exposed to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. If the skin shows a reaction after 48 hours, they have been exposed. The tests help catch the disease before it develops and prevents its spread. This type of test is known as the Mantoux test, named after Charles Mantoux (1877-1947), who invented it in 1907. The test is still used today, especially to confirm the results of other tuberculosis tests. This glass and metal syringe was probably made in England.

Object number:

A620226

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    Glossary: hypodermic syringe

    A syringe is a simple piston pump consisting of a plunger that fits tightly in a tube. The plunger can be pulled and pushed along inside a cylindrical tube (the barrel), allowing the syringe to take in and expel a liquid or gas through an orifice at the open end of the tube. In modern medicine, a syringe is often fitted with a hypodermic needle to create a hypodermic syringe which is most commonly used for injecting materials directly into the bloodstream.

    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: syringe

    An instrument used for injecting or withdrawing fluids. The open end of the syringe may be fitted with a hypodermic needle for injection into the bloodstream.

    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.

    Glossary: bacteria

    Micro-organisms which can cause disease but have an important role in global ecology.