1887

Chapter 10 : Victory Over Disease

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Victory Over Disease, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

The year 1877 constitutes a landmark in the life of Louis Pasteur and in the history of medicine. That April Pasteur published the first of his studies on anthrax—a disease of farm animals and humans—and this paper bears to the germ theory of disease the same relation that his 1857 paper on lactic acid bears to the germ theory of fermentation. While it is true that the germ theory of disease was accepted in medical circles only after 1877, the ground for acceptance had been prepared by many centuries of solid observations and shrewd thinking. Awareness of these facts led very early to the concept that certain diseases can be transmitted from one person to the next by contact, or can be caused by something present in the air. The potato blight is also important in the history of science because it contributed much to the understanding of disease causation. Pasteur had never heard of the invasion of the Irish potato fields by the fungus , and this is unfortunate because he would have grasped the broad significance of the phenomenon for human and veterinary medicine. In the course of his studies on spontaneous generation, he wrote "It would be interesting to carry out frequent microscopic analysis of the dust floating in the air at the different seasons, and in different localities. The understanding of the phenomena of contagion, especially during the periods of epidemic diseases, would have much to gain from such studies.’’

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10

Key Concept Ranking

Alcoholic Fermentation
0.72888595
Infectious Diseases
0.5958698
Phytophthora infestans
0.55185103
Typhoid Fever
0.52377415
0.72888595
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Figures

Image of Figure 1
Figure 1

The Irish potato blight was one of the first diseases to be shown to be caused by a microorganism. Drawing by M.J. Berkeley, made in 1846. Irish potato blight was responsible for the great famine in Ireland. Berkeley's drawing shows the manner by which the fungus grows around and through the cells of the potato leaf.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

The technique of antiseptic surgery, as developed by Joseph Lister after reading Pasteur's work on fermentation, (a) Lister's antiseptic spray apparatus in use in changing a surgical dressing. The metal container labeled was a small kerosene-fired steam generator, and steam pressure caused the antiseptic in the glass reservoir to vaporize. The reservoir was filled with carbolic acid (phenol), (b) An operation in progress. A fine mist of antiseptic spray covers the region where the surgical incision is made. Note that the surgeon and assistants are dressed in ordinary street clothes and are working with their bare hands. Both (a) and (b) were drawings to illustrate an 1882 English book on Lister's antiseptic principles.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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Image of Figure 3a
Figure 3a

Pasteur worked on silkworm diseases at Alès in the south of France, (a) House where Pasteur set up his laboratory, (b) Examining silkworm eggs for evidence of infection. Emile Duclaux at the microscope, (c) Pasteur's drawing of the silkworm larva for his book on silkworm diseases.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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Image of Figure 3b and Figure 3c
Figure 3b and Figure 3c

Pasteur worked on silkworm diseases at Alès in the south of France, (a) House where Pasteur set up his laboratory, (b) Examining silkworm eggs for evidence of infection. Emile Duclaux at the microscope, (c) Pasteur's drawing of the silkworm larva for his book on silkworm diseases.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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Image of Figure 4
Figure 4

Pasteur in 1868.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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Image of Figure 5
Figure 5

Pasteur's letter to the Emperor Napoleon III, dated September 5, 1867, requesting financial support for a new laboratory to study infectious diseases. This letter was written at the time Pasteur was studying silkworm diseases. The Emperor immediately agreed to Pasteur's request and work on the new laboratory began, but Pasteur's stroke and the Franco-Prussian War greatly delayed its completion.

Citation: Dubos R. 1998. Victory Over Disease, p 84-97. In Pasteur and Modern Science. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818265.ch10
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References

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