Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis,
the prophet of bacteriology

by
Hanninen O, Farago M, Monos E.
Department of Physiology,
University of Kuopio,
Kuopio, Finland.
Infect Control. 1983 Sep-Oct;4(5):367-70.


ABSTRACT

Although by 1931 I. Ph. Semmelweis' achievements and the tragedy of his life had been given their due place in the history of mankind, Alexander Frankel, formerly Theodor Billroth's assistant and later his biographer, critically stated that the discoverer of the causes of puerperal fever should have defended his discovery with facts rather than with fanaticism. It was only a few years after Semmelweis' death, for instance, that Billroth made laborious experiments. Billroth's work on Coccobacteria had important implications and even influenced Robert Koch, although his hypotheses did not really predict the pathogenic and specific nature of microbes. In 1847 Semmelweis postulated his theory; ie, that the pathological-anatomical changes which he observed in the bodies of the women who died in childbed, in their newborn infants, and in the autopsy findings on his friend Jakob Kolletschka were an entity, morphologically and clinically. He summed them up under the concept of pyemia. Even though Semmelweis was continually abhorred by the evident statistics and would have been able to prove his discovery through animal experiments, he primarily took to the pen to defend his opinion vehemently. Only the clinical facts proved him right during his lifetime; the triumph of bacteriology which began after his death made him not only the "savior of mothers" but also a genial ancestor of bacteriology.
People
Anaesthesia
Ignaz Semmelweis
Hypnotic analgesia
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Chloroform anaesthesia
A thalamocortical switch?
Ignaz Semmelweis and reverse gullibility



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