Details

Date1877
AuthorBert
ContributionReported evidence allegedly refuting Koch's claim that anthrax was caused by a bacterium.
ReferenceHoward
NotesFrench physiologist Paul Bert believed, on the basis of experimentation, that high oxygen tension killed all microorganisms. He subjected anthrax blood to compressed air, and injected it into test animals. The animals died, but bacteria were not found in their blood. Loefler (see Howard translation, page 186-7) suggests that the animals may have died of septicemia unrelated to anthrax and caused by an organism (Pasteur's Vibrion septique that was not killed by oxygen. After collaboration with Pasterur, Bert accepted the bacterial causation of anthrax. Loeffler wrote that Bert's challenge may have been the impetus for Pasteur's entry into anthrax research. Several other workers had similarily muddied the waters by reporting 'anthrax wirthout bacillli.' On the other hand, the impetus may have been Koch's 1876 report on anthrax, which Pateur cited. Whatever the impetus was, Loeffler, writing as early as 1887, concluded that it 'finally persuaded Pasteur to give in to a desire which he had held for a long time, to tackle the difficult problem of the origin of infectious disease by employing methods which he himself had develoed.' This would seem to be consistent with the idea that Pasteur's early work on silkworm disease and the 'malady' of wine etc were not regarded by Pasteur or his contemporaries as bearing on infectiuis disease as generall understood.
CategoryCausation
Pathogen ClassBacteria

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