Diphtheria specimen test kit box lid

Public Health Laboratory Service

Lid to cardboard box for diphtheria specimen test kit. British, mid 20th century

The Public Health Laboratory Service issued this kit. It contains a test tube for a blood sample and two glass slides for use under a microscope. The kit tested for diphtheria. This sometimes fatal respiratory disease causes difficulty in breathing and swallowing due to excessive swelling of the throat. It was a major cause of death in the 1800s and early 1900s, especially among children. Improvements in treatment and the development of a vaccine saw a significant decline in mortality from the 1920s.

A pre-addressed letter is also in the box. This blank form held details such as date, address, pre-existing medical conditions and the names of the patient and doctor. The form is addressed to the Pathology Department of The Royal Infirmary, Bradford.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Clinical Diagnosis
Object Number:
cardboard, cotton (textile) and metal (unknown)
  • information forms
Wellcome Medical Division

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