Schick Test
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Schick Test
Schick test
Medical diagnostics
Schick Test.jpg
A boy receives an injection of diluted toxin for the Schick test in 1915.
Purposesusceptibility to diphtheria
A positive reaction

The Schick test, developed in 1913,[1] is a skin test used to determine whether or not a person is susceptible to diphtheria.[2] It was named after its inventor, Béla Schick (1877-1967), a Hungarian-born American pediatrician.

The test is a simple procedure. A small amount (0.1 ml) of diluted (1/50 MLD) diphtheria toxin is injected intradermally into one arm of the person and a heat inactivated toxin on the other as a control. If a person does not have enough antibodies to fight it off, the skin around the injection will become red and swollen, indicating a positive result. This swelling disappears after a few days. If the person has an immunity, then little or no swelling and redness will occur, indicating a negative result.

Results can be interpreted as:[3]

  1. Positive: when the test results in a wheal of 5-10 mm diameter, reaching its peak in 4-7 days. The control arm shows no reaction. This indicates that the subject lacks antibodies against the toxin and hence is susceptible to the disease.
  2. Pseudo-positive: when there is only a red colored inflammation (erythema) and it disappears within 4 days. This happens on both the arms since the subject is immune but hypersensitive to the toxin.
  3. Negative reaction: Indicates that the person is immune.
  4. Combined reaction: Initial picture is like that of the pseudo-reaction but the erythema fades off after 4 days only in the control arm. It progresses on the test arm to a typical positive. The subject is interpreted to be both susceptible and hypersensitive.

The test was created when immunizing agents were scarce and not very safe; however, as newer and safer toxoids became available, susceptibility tests were no longer required.


  1. ^ Kilduffe R (1922). "The Schick Test and Its Practical Application in the Control of Diphtheria". The American Journal of Nursing. 22 (4): 254-248.
  2. ^ Barile MF, Kolb RW, Pittman M (September 1971). "United States standard diphtheria toxin for the Schick text and the erythema potency assay for the Schick text dose". Infect. Immun. 4 (3): 295-306. PMC 416303. PMID 4949493.
  3. ^ Preventive and Social Medicine, Park 22nd edition, pg 151
  • Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 20th Ed. (2005).

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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