Letter to the Editor

Gordon E. Davis Principal Medical Bacteriologist Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Hamilton, Montana.

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To the Editor:

John Ruskin once said: “The work of science is to substitute facts for appearance, and demonstrations for impressions.” It might well be added that “when an impression has once been given expression, it is frequently quoted long after it has been disproved by facts.”

It seems unfortunate that in an attempt to honor the workers in Panama (Minton, Muller, and Cohen, Am. J. Trop. Med. & Hyg., 3: 951–963, 1954), honors which they richly deserve, errors have been perpetuated, some of which have long since been corrected by the workers who published them. I quote from the above article: “Following Darling's studies which showed the rat to be a disseminator of relapsing fever in Panama and the work of Lawrence Dunn on the tropical bedbug in relation to its transmission, Bates and St. John in collaboration with Dunn proved by human experimentation that the human tick, Ornithodoros talaje, is the transmitting agent of the relapsing fever in Panama and produced evidence to show that the relapsing fever spirochete (Borrelia) of Panama is a distinct species for which they later suggested the name, Spirochaeta neotropicalis.”

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