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August 26, 1950

Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science

JAMA. 1950;143(17):1527. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02910520069031

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When the Nazis invaded France in 1940 Joseph Meister, a gatekeeper at the Pasteur Institute, committed suicide to escape being compelled to open the crypt where Pasteur is buried. Fifty-five years earlier, Joseph had been bitten on the thighs, legs and hands by a rabid dog. In spite of Pasteur's reluctance to proceed from animal experiments to the treatment of human disease, he was persuaded by the physiologist Vulpian and the physician Grancher to attempt treatment of the boy, with Grancher assuming the medical responsibility of the case. The procedure of injecting live virus, even attenuated, into man contradicted one of the medical concepts of the time and therefore was opposed by conservative physicians. The validity of the treatment remains a controversial subject; the value of the rabies epic must be judged on broader aspects. Pasteur had thereby developed a technic by which the pathogenicity of infectious, invisible, noncultivable viruses

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