By W. D. Foster
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Extra resources for A History of Medical Bacteriology and Immunology
Of course there was often doubt that the animal inflicting the bites in a particular case really was rabid, despite the most stringent inquiries. Of these 350 patients only one died. But although some of the patients were probably bitten by animals not, in fact, rabid, there was no reasonable doubt as to the efficacy of Pasteur's preventive measure, for two reasons. Firstly at the end of their vaccination course the patients were actually being inoculated with fully virulent virus and, secondly, over a number of years, it had been shown that about one in six persons 36 A History of Medical Bacteriology and Immunology bitten by supposedly rabid dogs did die of rabies.
The anthrax spores were impregnated on to silk thread and after exposure to disinfectants and washing in sterile water planted on nutrient gelatine. The Contribution of Robert Koch to Medical Bacteriology 51 One of the first disinfectants Koch subjected to his tests was carbolic acid, for some fourteen years the basis of Lister's antiseptic system. He found that although 1 per cent aqueous carbolic acid killed vegetative organisms in two minutes and a dilution of 1 in 850 prevented the development of spores it required the action of a 5 per cent solution for two days to actually kill spores.
Joseph Meister was given a subcutaneous injection of cord material which had been dried fifteen days. During the following ten days he received injections of cord material dried for shorter and shorter periods. Meister survived, not only the natural rabies infection acquired from his bites, but, by the end of his course of injections was receiving virus which was actually more virulent than 'street' virus. Pasteur reported the result in a paper to the Academy of Science on 26 October 1885 and, this time at least, not a single critical comment was heard.