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Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction

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A transient inflammatory reaction following treatment with Salvarsan, mercury, or antibiotics of early and later stages of syphilis. It is seen in 50% of patients with primary syphilis and about 90% of patients with secondary syphilis. Also seen in other diseases, such as borreliosis, brucellosis, typhoid fever, and trichinellosis. It is manifested by fever, chills, headache, myalgias, and exacerbation of cutaneous lesions. Duration is normally only a few hours. The intensity of the reaction reflects the intensity of inflammation present. Herxheimer observed his reaction on patients he had treated with mercury.

We thank Stefan Rustscheff and Jyrki Launes for information submitted.


  • A. Jarisch:
    Therapeutische Versuche bei Syphilis.
    Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift, 1895, 45: 720-721.
  • Karl Herxheimer:
    Ueber eine bei Syphilitischen vorkommende Quecksilberreaktion.
    Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, 1902, Berlin, 1902, 28: 895-897.

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