Friday, 23 January 2009

Louis Pasteur

Following my last post about Robert Koch's visit to India in 1897, I have been reading about another world renowned scientist's contribution to veterinary medicine. Louis Pasteur (1822-1895, pictured) is credited with discovering that microbes cause disease and is admired still for his pioneering work in microbiology. The French scientist began studying anthrax and fowl cholera in the late 1870's. Inspired by Jenner's inoculation against smallpox, Pasteur weakened (attenuated) the fowl cholera bacteria and created a vaccine that prevented animals contracting the disease.
In 1855 his rabies vaccine was tested on 9 year old Joseph Meister who had been bitten many times by a rabid dog. The boy lived and the vaccine was another one of his achievements that saved millions of human and animal lives.
Rabies features heavily in the Medical History of British India Project as it infects both animals and humans. Notable volumes I have worked with include:
Sir David Semple's work in India on his 1911 vaccine
Pasteur Institute at Kasauli
Pasteur Institute of Southern India
Various articles featuring in the Indian Journal of Veterinary Science and animal husbandry
Plus a recent book (2007) on rabies in Britain Mad Dogs and Englishmen

There is no doubt that both Koch and Pasteur were brilliant scientists, but there are also many more who did important work in the field of microbiology and veterinary medicine. I will be writing about those I have found in the veterinary volumes in the coming weeks.
Picture of Pasteur holding eyeglasses credit: Wellcome Images.

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