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Centenary Vignette

BASHH Centenary Vignette series: Culture of the gonococcus – some historical details

28 Feb, 17 | by flee

Culture of the gonococcus – some historical details

The 43 year period between two BJVD articles1, 2 incubated improvements in the diagnosis of gonorrhoea by laboratory culture. The following 47 gave birth to alternative tests (NAATs), more simple to administer, but whose automation brought loss of personnel and possibly skills: perhaps in microscopy, perhaps in laboratory culture.

In 1927 Colonel Harrison wrote1: “There are differences of opinion as to the value of cultures in the diagnosis of gonorrhoea. Personally I think them indispensable in the case of women and often valuable in male urethritis” (my emphasis).

Laboratory culture of Neisseria gonorrhoeae has always lacked 100% sensitivity. Sampling from multiple sites, on multiple occasions, was necessary to diagnose, to exclude, and, importantly, to monitor any advances, or fluctuations, in the efficiency of laboratory culture. The use of repeated tests to analyse the sensitivity of culture is now impossible, with the universal adoption of epidemiological treatment (before/without diagnosis).


BASHH Centenary Vignette series: Then and Now

28 Feb, 17 | by flee

Then and Now

As far as I know, Sir Humphry Davy Rolleston, Bart, GCVO, KCB, LLD, MD PRCP, has been the only President of the specialist society, the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases (MSSVD) to have also been the President of the Royal College of Physicians. He was the son of George Rolleston FRS FRCP, Linacre Professor of Physiology at Oxford and his wife Grace who was the niece of Sir Humphry Davy the chemist after whom he was named. He was a direct descendant of Sir Michael Stanhope, the Groom of the Stool of King Henry VIII and was 22nd in direct line from King Edward I. He was mainly associated with St George’s Hospital in London but became the Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge. He was the Physician-in-Ordinary and Extraordinary to King George V. He served in the South African War and was Consulting Surgeon to the Royal Navy in the First World War with the rank of Surgeon Rear Admiral. He was the first baronet, the KCB decoration is usually awarded to senior military officers and civil servants, so presumably it was for services to the Navy and the GCVO for services to the Royal Family. The Journal was fortunate indeed to have such an eminent physician write the introduction to its first issue.


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